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  • Southside

Controversy over Obama’s Freedom of the City award

Monday, 13th February, 2017 2:00pm

Story by Neil Fetherstonhaugh
Controversy over Obama’s Freedom of the City award

Barack and Michelle Obama have been awarded the Freedom of the City. PHOTO: BIGSTOCK

Controversy over Obama’s Freedom of the City award

Barack and Michelle Obama have been awarded the Freedom of the City. PHOTO: BIGSTOCK

SEVERAL People Before Profit councillors staged a walk out of a Dublin City Council meeting last week in protest of the awarding of the Freedom of the City to Barack Obama.

The accolade was conferred on Barack and Michelle Obama by the Lord Mayor of Dublin, Brendan Carr, after the proposal was narrowly carried by a majority of the city council members present.

Speaking about the decision to confer the Freedom of Dublin City on Barack and Michelle Obama the Lord Mayor said: “The award is often a political statement.

“I believe at this juncture in world politics this council and our city, as it has done in the past, can make a clear statement about what example we would wish the paramount global political leader, who is whether we like it or not the US President, to set in international relations.

“I believe Barack and Michelle Obama did set the right direction for the US both domestically and in international relations in seeking to build a cohesive and inclusive society which respects all its constituent communities.

“This was done often in the face of stiff opposition from a Congress and a US military and commercial establishment which unfortunately is not as supportive of these aims as the former First Couple.”

The Lord Mayor cited some of former President Obama’s achievements including his winning the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009 for his commitment to the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons and ending US military operations in Afghanistan.

However, People Before Profit councillors John Lyons, Andrew Keegan, Tina MacVeigh and Hazel de Nortuin all stood up and left the council chamber when the decision was passed.

“We believe that the awarding of such an honour to a President who presided over growing inequality at home, mass incarceration and deportations and ongoing wars in the Middle East is an insult to the people of Dublin City who have over many years opposed US imperialism in their hundreds of thousands,” the group stated.

“While we believe it is correct to express opposition and mobilise resistance to Donald Trump and his overt racism and misogyny, we nevertheless must remember that Obama’s eight years in the White House simply established the conditions which gave rise to such a horror as Trump.

“The change and hope upon which Obama was elected and re-elected was never delivered upon.

“Wore still, throughout his eight years in office President Obama served as the loyal representative of US imperialism and capitalism, making life for millions of Americans and many millions more abroad a living hell.”

The Lord Mayor argued that while he was aware of the failings of US foreign policy during the Presidency of Barack Obama, he added: “I believe he and Michelle, through their promotion of the rights of refugees, humanitarian causes and focus on improving international relations with several States, did point American society in a progressive direction.”

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