Calls have been made for Aung San Suu Kyi, the Burmese pro-democracy leader, to be invited to Galway to receive the Freedom of the City, which was awarded to her in 2005.
The calls have come in the wake of Ms Suu Kyi’s release from house arrest by the nation’s military junta this week. Due to her detention - she was under house arrest for 15 of the last 20 years - she was unable to receive the honour in person.
Independent councillor Catherine Connolly, during her term as mayor, proposed Ms Suu Kyi for the Freedom of Galway and is calling on City Hall to invite her to the city to “accept that honour in person”.
“Aung Sang Suu Kyi remains the leading figure in Burma’s democracy movement and commands great respect as the daughter of General Aung San, the nation’s iconic independence leader from the 1940s who was very much influenced by Ireland’s struggle for independence,” she said.
Labour councillor Derek Nolan will also be proposing, at the next city council meeting, that City Hall formally invite Ms Suu Kyi to Galway.
“Aung San Suu Kyi has been a global icon of heroic and peaceful resistance in the face of military repression,” he said. “Her release from house arrest is inspiring news, and I trust this means she will have freedom to become involved in democratic politics once again.”
Labour party president and Galway West TD Michael D Higgins has welcomed Ms Suu Kyi’s release and said he hoped this development would “hasten the establishment of democracy in Burma”.
“Aung San Suu Kyi has won worldwide admiration for her fight for democracy and human rights,” he said, “a principled stand that has cost her 15 years of freedom over the past 21 years.”
He added that there are still more than 2,000 political prisoners in Burma and that it was important to “keep the pressure on the Burmese military” to secure the release of all prisoners and to establish “full democratic and human rights” there.