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Kellie Harrington celebrating with her gold medal after the women's lightweight boxing Olympic final.
Kellie Harrington celebrating with her gold medal after the women's lightweight boxing Olympic final.
Image: Alamy Stock Photo

Freedom of Dublin sought for Kellie Harrington ahead of her homecoming

The gold medal-winning boxer is due to arrive home tomorrow.
Aug 9th 2021, 3:41 PM 15,158 21

Updated Aug 9th 2021, 3:54 PM

DUBLIN CITY COUNCIL (DCC) will give more information tomorrow on plans for the homecoming for Olympic gold medal winner Kellie Harrington. 

DCC has said no formal civic reception can be held at this time to welcome back the gold medallist due to Covid-19 restrictions.

However, talks are continuing between DCC and locals about how they can mark her homecoming tomorrow in a way that is Covid-safe. 

In a statement last week, DCC told The Journal: “Her friends, neighbours, and the local community are understandably keen for the city to mark her wonderful achievement. Dublin City Council is currently exploring what, if anything, can be done to facilitate this.

“Any celebration would have to fully comply with Covid-19 public health restrictions. Unfortunately there can be no formal civic reception on this occasion.”

It comes after a Dublin City councillor formally proposed that Harrington be given the Freedom of Dublin City following her win at the Olympic Games. 

North Inner City councillor and family friend of Harrington, Cllr Nial Ring, today announced that he has contacted the Lord Mayor of Dublin to formally propose that Harrington be granted the freedom of the city.

If approved, Harrington would be the first boxer to receive the honour.

“Kellie’s inspirational achievements, culminating in her Olympic Gold medal win yesterday must be formally recognised with her being conferred with the highest award the city can give – the Freedom of the City,” Ring said. 

He said that Harrington had put the North Inner City, Dublin and Ireland “on the world stage in the most positive way possible” and that the Freedom of her native city would be “a fitting recognition of her achievements”. 

“In the past many sportspeople have been recognised, such as Stephen Roche (cycling), Kevin Heffernan and Jim Gavin (GAA), Jack Charlton and Johnny Giles (Soccer), Brian O’Driscoll (Rugby) and her fellow Olympic Gold medalist Ronnie Delaney (Athletics).

“This award to Kellie would not only be recognition for her but also for boxing itself, which has for too long been the ‘poor relation’ in Irish sport” Ring added.

Ring said that despite no formal reception being held, locals on Portland Row “will get a chance to show her our appreciation tomorrow evening”. 

“Later in the year, if and when my fellow councillors support my proposal for the award, we can have a formal civic reception and let the whole of Dublin and Ireland celebrate this magnificent achievement by the wonderful North Inner City girl,” he added. 

‘Never doubted’

Meanwhile, Harrington’s partner Mandy Loughlin said she “never doubted” that she would bring home the gold. 

Mandy Loughlin, her girlfriend of 13 years, said she was always confident she would win, saying she “brings 110% to whatever she does”.

“I never doubted her for a minute. Never,” she said.

“The whole package is there for Kellie now. She’s just got such a fantastic support system, in our coaches and in the IABA (Irish Athletic Boxing Association), and in her club coach, in her family and friends,” Loughlin said.

“Everything has just come together so well for Kellie. Obviously, Covid and stuff like that has kind of, not knocked her confidence, but I feel like it was the only thing that wasn’t coming together was the lack of preparation.

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“To a certain extent where, you know, they weren’t going to the usual competitions at that level.

“But when she went to all the qualifiers, she flew through them and she came out with the gold. That was all the confidence she needed going into this.

“I was just so happy and just so positive that she would get what she deserves.”

Speaking to Ryan Tubridy on RTE Radio One, Loughlin praised Harrington for her positivity.

“She brings 110% to whatever she does, she brings the craic, she brings passion and excitement,” she said.

“If you meet Kellie, and you’re talking to her, the energy, she just makes you want to be a better person, she really does.”

Loughlin watched the fight from the Harrington family home in Portland Row in Dublin’s inner city, and described the atmosphere as “magical”.

She said: “The energy was just unbelievable. You could hear the waves of people from, like, houses above and beyond and further away.

“The screams as she was boxing and was successful in catching her (Ferreira), it was just magical.”

Includes reporting by Press Association

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Jane Moore

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