BOD awarded Freedom of Dublin alongside homeless campaigner McVerry

Fr Peter McVerry (left) and Brian O'Driscoll receive their honours from Lord Mayo Oisín Quinn. Picture: INPHO

Rugby legend Brian O'Driscoll and homeless campaigner Fr Peter McVerry were being awarded the Freedom of the City of Dublin at a ceremony in the capital's Mansion House tonight.

The honour was being conferred by Lord Mayor Oisín Quinn and Dublin City Council in recognition of their work in the fields of sport and social justice.

O'Driscoll is widely regarded as Ireland's best ever rugby union player and has captained Leinster, Ireland and the British & Irish Lions during an international career which ended last Saturday with a Six Nations title win in Paris.

Fr. McVerry has worked with and campaigned for the rights of Dublin's young homeless for more than 30 years.

A total of 76 people have previously been awarded the honour, including Nelson Mandela, Bill Clinton and John F Kennedy. And Bono.

"The Freedom of the City is the biggest honour Dublin city can bestow on one of its citizens and it is an honour for me to add Fr. Peter and Brian to the list of illustrious names in the Roll of Honorary Freedom of Dublin," Lord Mayor Quinn said.

"Though from different generations they share much in common and are both inspirational leaders.

"They are people who lead by the example they set and in their own way and in their own fields they are individuals who walk the walk."

Holders of the Freedom of Dublin have a number of ancient privileges and duties not applicable to ordinary citizens, including the right to pasture sheep on common ground within the city boundaries.

Each freeman or freewoman also has to be ready to defend the city from attack!

Describing O'Driscoll as 'an icon', Fr McVerry said he was "a role model for young people and has brought a huge amount of joy and pride to many people because of his achievements".

"What Peter does is life or death, he changes peoples' lives," O'Driscoll remarked.

The citys' latest Freeman will be presented with a gift from the city specially commissioned for the occasion called 'The Wave Sculptures'.

O'Driscoll is the second member of Ireland's 2014 Six Nations-winning team to receive the Freedom of their native city.

Current Ireland captain Paul O'Connell was awarded the honour in Limerick in 2012.

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