On the evening of Monday, May 9, Dublin City Council (DCC) announced that Dr Ailbhe Smyth, Professor Mary Aiken, and boxer Kellie Harrington will be awarded the Honorary Freedom of the City later this summer. The three inspiring figures are to be conferred in a ceremony on June 11, Lord Mayor of Dublin Alison Gilliland confirmed.
Dr Ailbhe Smyth, who received an Honorary Doctorate from NUI Galway in April, is being recognised for her “work on human rights and social justice”. Smyth has long been a leader in achieving equality and societal transformation in Ireland, being both a prominent activist and academic. She is committed to the LGBTQ+ and gender rights movement, and among other things was a spokeswoman and convenor for the Coalition to Repeal the Eighth Amendment, and is also a founding member of Marriage Equality.
Responding to the news from DCC, Ailbhe tweeted: “I’m totally thrilled and quite overwhelmed. Such an honour to be in the company of two very brilliant women”.
Speaking exclusively to GCN, she added: “I am a Dub, I am very proud of being a Dub, so this fills me with a really quite intense pleasure”.
“I think that it’s such an acknowledgement and such a recognition of the importance of the work of campaigners and activists, and there’s absolutely no doubt about it, that in our LGBTIQ community, we have certainly been out there actively, on the streets of Dublin […] protesting but also celebrating ourselves and our identities and our community. I think that it is time for that to be really recognised – that we bring a dimension and a life and a perspective and a sense of openness to our city that is really important.”
Am rounding up my sheep 🐑🐑🐑🐑🐑 You know who you are. https://t.co/gZbW4OFcpG
— Ailbhe Smyth (@ailbhes) May 9, 2022
It’s no surprise that Portland Row native Kellie Harrington is being awarded the Honorary Freedom of the City of Dublin for her “community work and sporting achievements”. The amateur boxer took home the gold medal at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and became an instant fan favourite thanks to her humble nature and national pride.
Her partner Mandy O’Loughlin put it best when she said “It’s so rare to find everything that Kellie has, together. I don’t know how she has the energy to spread herself around the way she does. And the things she does, she gives back so much to people.”
Kellie took to Twitter to express her gratitude for the honour, writing: “This one is for all the people who helped me achieve all I have, for my great community who have supported me from day 1 in highs and lows.”
What an incredible honour,this one is for all the people who helped me achieve all I have,for my great community who have supported me from day1 in highs and lows.I stand proud beside Ailbhe Smyth & Prof Mary Aiken.Thank you to the people of Dublin and all over Ireland #HFOTCOD https://t.co/s3efTg2cSg
— Kellie Harrington (@Kelly64kg) May 10, 2022
Finally, Professor Mary Aiken is being recognised for her “work in cyberpsychology and online safety and security”. Aiken is currently the Chair of the Department of Cyberpsychology at Washington DC’s premier STEM University, Capitol Technology University, and is also an author, speaker and advisor.
She tweeted that receiving the “keys to the city” is “such an honour!”, adding that the “award highlights the importance of online safety and security”.
🎇Freedom of the City of Dublin 🎇 Such an honour!
Thank you Lord Mayor – this award highlights the importance of online safety & security #SafetyTech
— Prof. Mary Aiken (@maryCyPsy) May 9, 2022
Before Dr Ailbhe Smyth, Kellie Harrington, and Prof Mary Aiken, only four women in history have ever received the Freedom of the City of Dublin. The first female recipient was suffragist Margaret Sandhurst in 1889, followed by actress Maureen Potter in 1984, former Crown Princess of Japan Michiko in 1985, and the late Mother Teresa of Calcutta in 1993.
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