President to be conferred with Freedom of Cork

Higgins becomes fifth President to be honoured while in office

Cork City Council is to award President Michael D Higgins the freedom of the city. Photograph: The Irish Times

Cork City Council is to award President Michael D Higgins the freedom of the city. Photograph: The Irish Times

 

Cork City Council is to award President Michael D Higgins the freedom of the city.

The decision followed a vote at a council meeting last night in which 17 councillors voted for and nine objected to awarding the honour. A number of councillors expressed concern that the honour has been watered down due to the frequency with which it has been bestowed recently.

City Lord Mayor, Cllr Catherine Clancy put forward the motion.

President Higgins will become the fifth President of Ireland to be so honoured while in office following in the footsteps of Sean T O’Kelly, Eamon De Valera, Mary Robinson and Mary McAleese.

The first President of Ireland, Douglas Hyde was also conferred with the Freedom of Cork in 1906 prior to his taking office in Aras an Uachtaran and he was honoured for his work as a journalist and Irish language scholar.

President Higgins, who represented Galway West as a Labour TD and served as Minister for Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht in the 1993-1997 rainbow coalition - took up office as the ninth President of Ireland on November 11th, 2011.

Aside from former Irish presidents, he joins a distinguished list of national and international recipients of the Freedom of Cork including former US presidents, Woodrow Wilson and John F Kennedy and Speaker of the US House of Representatives, Thomas ‘Tip’ O’Neill.

Others to be honoured include Fenian, Jeremiah O’Donovan Rossa, Irish nationalist, John Redmond, former Taoiseach, Albert Reynolds and former British prime minister, John Major as well as former SDLP leader, John Hume.

More recently local Cork sports stars, former Manchester United and Republic of Ireland footballer Roy Keane and Olympic silver medallist Sonia O’Sullivan have been honoured as has All-Ireland winning Cork hurling captain, Sean Og O hAilpin.

Last year, comedians Frank Duggan and Michael Twomey, the duo behind Cork characters, Cha and Miah, were together with entertainer Billa O’Connell conferred with the Freedom of Cork in what was the first occasion that three people were conferred with the honour simultaneously.