{meta} Agenda item - To present Duncan Stewart and Greta Thunberg with the Certificate of Honorary Freedom of the City and to witness the affixing of their signatures to the Roll of Honorary Freedom of Dublin.

Agenda item


The MC for the occasion, Councillor Deirdre Heney, welcomed the invited guests to the Round Room at the Mansion House on this historic occasion. The ceremonial procession, the Sword and Mace bearers, the Lord Mayor Caroline Conroy accompanied by her ADC, and Duncan Stewart followed by the Chief Executive, Owen Keegan, then entered the Round room at 7p.m. and made their way to the stage.


The MC, Cllr Deirdre Heney, read the resolution of the City Council that approved the conferral of the Honorary Freedom of the City of Dublin on Duncan Stewart & Greta Thunberg. The resolution, adopted unanimously by Dublin City Council at its meeting held on 12th June 2023, was as follows:


“The Dublin City Council hereby resolves that the Honorary Freedom of the City of Dublin be conferred on Duncan Stewart and Greta Thunberg and that their names be inscribed on the Roll of Honorary Freedom of Dublin, pursuant to the provisions of Section 74 of the Local Government Act 2001, in recognition of their enormous contribution to the City of Dublin in relation to Environmental Activism.”


The Lord Mayor then welcomed those present to the historic Round Room in the Mansion House for this special occasion.  She outlined that one of the privileges of the Lord Mayor is to propose names for the conferral of the Freedom of the City.This is the highest honour that can be given by the City of Dublin and since 1876 only 86 people have received this honour, only 7 of these have been women.


All 86 recipients have been people who either contributed significantly to the life of Dublin City or were important international visitors.


Acknowledging the support of her colleagues on Dublin City Council, the Lord Mayor said it was a great honour to propose Duncan Stewart and Greta Thunberg for the award and expressed her delight in their acceptance, as they are both deserving of this prestigious award.


She acknowledged the significant contributions they have both made to the future of our city, and more widely to our country and our world, in very different ways. 


She paid tribute to the recipients for their integrity as well as their work in

raising awareness of the twin challenges that define our age: climate and biodiversity. They have demonstrated a resolve, a determination and a resilience. They are passionate in their pursuit of a better future for the people of Dublin and of this entire world. They have spoken up for causes that, at best, don’t always get the attention that they deserve, and at worst, are met with considerable opposition, not least from vested interests.


The Lord Mayor then spoke about each recipient:


Duncan is an Award-winning architect and media producer. He is Ireland’s most well-known and respected environmentalist. With an activism stretching back to 1969 from his student days at UCD where he studied architecture, he was producer and presenter of the highly acclaimed Eco Eye, Ireland’s longest running environmental television series, that ran for over 21 years and only finished recently. This programme was hugely popular, and it covered topics that he felt passionately about such as biodiversity protection, eco-grassroots initiatives, green technologies and Climate Change.


Duncan has been a powerhouse and a symbol of all that is good in public service. The Lord Mayor has followed Duncan throughout his career on television and more widely in the media. He was advocating and educating us on climate, biodiversity and sustainability before almost anyone else, at a time when it was neither popular nor profitable to do so.


A short video of Duncan was shown after which he was then called forward to sign the Roll of Honorary Freedom and accept his Award and Scroll. Mr. Stewart then spoke to those present, expressing his gratitude for the Honour and thanked the Lord Mayor and Councillors.


The Lord Mayor then turned her attention to Greta Thunberg:


Greta is the world’s most prominent global climate campaigner of our time. She is also a young person who sacrificed so much of the last number of years, including her schooling, to bring a new energy and spirit to the climate cause by inspiring a broad youth movement focused firmly on climate action. Action is what is required. That is our challenge, a challenge that the people of Dublin and Ireland and this whole world face.


The Lord Mayor commended Greta for all that she has done to communicate this message, using every platform she has been given to focus our minds on the urgency of climate change. She has called on leaders at every level of politics and our society to do everything in their power to protect our wonderful planet from the threat of climate change


As Greta Thunberg was not present for the award. Jessica Dunne and Sumaya Ahmed accepted the award and scroll on her behalf and spoke.  A space has been left on the Roll of Honorary Freedom for Greta to affix her signature when she is next in the country.


The Lord Mayor concluded the meeting acknowledging the recipients and thanking her fellow members of Dublin City Council, the staff of the Media Relations Department in Dublin City Council and staff of the Chief Executive’s Department and Lord Mayors Office in the Mansion House.


The MC, Councillor Deirdre Heney, declared the formal part of the ceremony to be over and invited the ceremonial party to process from the stage. A meal was served and the dignitaries mingled with guests, family and friends.