On the eve of Saturday, June 11, activist Ailbhe Smyth, boxer Kellie Harrington and Professor Mary Aiken received the Honorary Freedom of the City of Dublin. The three inspiring women were awarded by Lord Mayor of Dublin Alison Gilliland in a ceremony in the Mansion House Dublin, surrounded by friends, family and colleagues.
Ailbhe Smyth, who received an Honorary Doctorate from NUI Galway in April, was recognised by Dublin City Council for her “work in the areas of human rights, social justice and academia”. 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 movements, 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.
Speaking on the award, Smyth said she was “deeply honoured and absolutely delighted to receive the Freedom of the City I love and have lived in all my life”.
“As an activist, it’s wonderful to see our collective struggles for equality, justice and human rights being recognised and valued and so encouraging for younger generations of campaigners.”
— Ailbhe Smyth (@ailbhes) June 12, 2022
Queer Olympic boxing champion Kellie Harrington emotionally accepted the honour, saying it gave her and her family “a huge sense of pride”. Harrington was recognised for her impressive sporting achievements and “her unstinting work in the community, her caring exemplar and role modelling for young people”.
Although she did not prepare a speech, she still managed to move audience members to tears with her genuine, heartfelt statement of gratitude at the event. Separately, the Portland Row native commented: “There is not too many women on this role of honour and I am delighted to be one of three incredible women who will receive this award.”
Kellie Harrington 🌟
🥇 Olympic Champion
💙 🤍 Darling of Dublin
🔑 Freedom of Dublin
— Team Ireland (@TeamIreland) June 12, 2022
Professor Mary Aiken was awarded for her work in the areas of “cyberpsychology, online safety and security”, and said it was “an honour to be considered in the same roll calls as JFK, Nelson Mandela and Mother Theresa”.
She added: “I am equally honoured to be in the company of strong pioneering female representatives of Ireland’s recent past, present and future.”
— Lord Mayor of Dublin (@LordMayorDublin) June 11, 2022
Prior to this year, only four women in history had ever received the Honorary 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 finally Mother Teresa of Calcutta in 1993. 83 people in total had been awarded, with Smyth, Aiken and Harrington becoming the 84th, 85th and 86th respectively.
We’re delighted to be in attendance for the Freedom of the City ceremony tonight where the honorary Freedom of the City of Dublin will be conferred on @ailbhes @maryCyPsy and @Kelly64kg 👏🏻🏳️🌈🇮🇪#FOTC #inspired #icons pic.twitter.com/agcK4GxmRs
— Gay Community News (@GCNmag) June 11, 2022
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