Theatre director Oonagh Murphy received the Jo Cox Award for “her tireless work on the marriage referendum, LGBT issues and with asylum seekers” at the Labour Party Conference on Saturday.
Oonagh Murphy was presented the award by Labour leader Brendan Howlin on the top floor of the Wexford Opera House on Saturday, April 22 for the inaugural presentation of the Jo Cox award, named after the murdered UK Labour politician.
The award was conferred upon Murphy in part for her work with LGBT asylum seekers. Last year theatre director Murphy, together with the members of the Rainbow Solidarity Project (which has since been renamed I-Dentity LGBT Refugee Support), set up a fundraising page aiming to enable members of the group to attend Dublin Pride.
I-Dentity LGBT is comprised of asylum seekers and refugees from around the country who were living in direct provision the government’s ‘cashless’ system of handling asylum seekers whose claims are mired in endless processing.
Residents at direct provision centres receive accommodation, food and utilities, which are paid for by the state, along with a weekly stipend of €19.10 for adults and are not permitted to work. With such limited financial means, even meeting up was difficult for the group’s members.
So, Murphy and the members of I-Dentity, inspired by the goal of taking part as a group in Dublin’s Pride parade, set up a funding page in the summer of 2016, hoping to raise much-needed funds.
Little did they imagine that the fundraising campaign would be a huge succeess, capturing the public’s imagination and earning the group over €4,000 – almost treble their original target.
Murphy was presented the Jo Cox Award, which was established in honour of the British Labour MP who was murdered outside her constituency clinic in the UK last year, reports RTÉ.
Writing about the award on Twitter, Murphy paid tribute to Cox’s human rights and social justice work. “Her murder was a reminder of the precariousness of our freedom,” Murphy wrote. “Her death must not be in vain. I was deeply honoured to receive this award and be in some way connected to Jo’s legacy.”
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