Freedom of the City conferred on two inspirational icons #FOTC14

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Dublin’s Lord Mayor, Oisín Quinn, will confer the Honorary Freedom of the City of Dublin on Fr. Peter McVerry and Brian O’Driscoll on Saturday 22nd March 2014. The ceremony will take place in the Round Room, Mansion House, Dawson Street at 8pm.

The Lord Mayor and Dublin City Council are paying tribute to Fr. Peter and Brian in recognition of their work in the fields of social justice and sport.  Fr. Peter has worked with and campaigned for the rights of Dublin’s young homeless for more than 30 years.  Brian is widely acclaimed as Ireland’s best ever rugby union player and has captained Leinster, Ireland and the British and Irish Lions during an international career which ended last Saturday with a Six Nations Championship win.

Lord Mayor of Dublin Oisín Quinn said “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.  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”.

Peter McVerry said “Brian is an icon, he has achieved everything that you can achieve in his particular world of rugby. He is a role model for young people and has brought a huge amount of joy and pride to many people because of his achievements.”

Brian O’Driscoll said “What Peter does is life or death, he changes peoples’ lives.”
The Freedom has previously been conferred on 76 persons ranging from Presidents to Prisoners of Conscience to people in Sports and Entertainment.  The first recipient of the Freedom of the City was Isaac Butt in 1876.  The most recent recipients were Thomas Kinsella and Louis le Brocquy in 2007.
Fr. Peter McVerry and Brian O’Driscoll will be presented with a gift from the City specially commissioned for the occasion called ‘The Wave Sculptures’.  Each piece, made from granite and glass, represents Freedom and is made in Ireland by Sculpture Designer, a company of skilled crystal craftsmen. They will each receive an illuminated scroll also.

For a copy of the Lord Mayor’s speech and the Freedom of the City booklet please click on the following link which will be live from 7 p.m. on Saturday 22nd March


For further information contact:

Dublin City Council Media Relations Office T: (01) 222 2170 M: 087 740 0277

For information on the Freedom of the City see:

For information on Fr. Peter McVerry & the PMVT contact:
Francis Doherty Communications and Advocacy Officer

T   +353 (0)1 823 0776   M  +353 (0)87 942 1051 E

  • Notes to the Editor:
  • Biography for Fr. Peter McVerry SJ
  • Fr. Peter McVerry SJ grew up in Newry, Co. Down and was educated at the Abbey Christian Brothers’ Grammar School in Newry and at the Jesuit school at Clongowes Wood College in Co. Kildare.
  • In 1962, he entered the Jesuit Order and was ordained in 1975. From 1974 to 1980, Peter worked in the Inner City in Dublin and there he came into contact with young people who were sleeping on the streets because of their home situation.  He opened a hostel for homeless boys, aged 12-16, in 1979 and this subsequently became his life-time work. He saw through the work of this hostel that when the boys reached 16 and needed to leave, they had few options open to them and most ended up back living on the streets. This realisation led him to set about providing services and accommodation for these older youths.
  • In 1980 Peter moved to Ballymun and by the end of 1983 he had founded the Arrupe Society, a charity to tackle homelessness. This charity, subsequently renamed as the Peter McVerry Trust (PMVT), has progressed from a three bedroom flat in Ballymun to eleven homeless hostels, over 100 apartments, a residential drug detox centre and two drug stabilisation services. The vision of PMVT is to support all those living on the margins and to uphold their rights to full inclusion in society.  In 2013 the charity worked with over 3,500 vulnerable youths.
  • As a social activist Peter is a strong advocate for those who have no voice in society.  He has written widely on issues relating to young homeless people such as accommodation, drugs, juvenile justice, the Gardaí, prisons and education. He has a regular article in the monthly Redemptorist magazine, Reality, and speaks on issues of homelessness, justice and faith to groups around the country.  He is a critic of government policy on issues such as homelessness, drugs and criminal justice.
  • Peter has produced a book of writings, called “The Meaning is in the Shadows”.  These writings reflect on his experiences working in Dublin’s Inner City.   His most recent book is “Jesus – Social Revolutionary?” 
  • Now based at PMVT’s Open Access Centre in Upper Sherrard Street, Peter’s ongoing work with and campaigning on behalf of troubled young people has made him one of the most prophetic voices in Ireland today.
  • Biography for Brian O’Driscoll
  • Born in Dublin in 1979, Brian O’Driscoll is universally acknowledged as one of the worlds’ greatest ever rugby centres. Over the past 14 years, his number 13 jersey has become affectionately immortalised as a symbol of achievement, leading a golden generation of Leinster and Ireland players to a series of unprecedented international successes. Brian’s professional playing career began in 1998 when Ireland won the U-19 Rugby World Championship. He made his debut for Leinster in 1999, where he would become a profound influence in a powerful Leinster backline for the remainder of his career.
  • First capped in 1999, Brian electrified the rugby world in March 2000 with a hat-trick of tries for Ireland against France, securing Ireland’s first win in Paris in the Five Nations since 1972. His first Celtic League win came in 2001, when Leinster beat great rivals Munster in the final. Further Celtic League successes followed in 2008 and 2013. In 2009, 2011 and 2012, Brian was pivotal to Leinster winning the much coveted European Heineken Cup and in 2013, the European Amlin Challenge Cup
  • Accustomed to winning at underage level Brian believed that Ireland and Leinster could achieve at the highest level. Unsurprisingly, he captained the Ireland Rugby team from 2004 to 2013, and Leinster Rugby from 2005 to 2008. A leader by example, he inspired Ireland to 4 Triple Crown successes in 2004, 2006, 2007 and 2009, and a Six Nations Championship Grand Slam in 2009. He ended his international career with Ireland on 8th March 2014 with a win in Paris leading to Ireland winning the 2014 Six Nations Championship.  Four times a British and Irish Lion - 2001, 2005, 2009 and 2013, he captained the 2005 tour of New Zealand.
    Brian is the highest try scorer of all time in Irish rugby with 46 tries, the eight highest try scorer in rugby union history, and the highest scoring centre of all time. With such an illustrious resumé, it is no surprise that he has been decorated with several honours and awards throughout his career. Among the accolades, he was chosen as Player of the Tournament in the 2006, 2007 and 2009 RBS Six Nations Championships.
  • A wonderful ambassador on and off the pitch, Brian’s humanitarian persona came to the fore with his fundraising efforts for the Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children and Temple Street Children’s Hospital. His testimonial was held last November and the entire proceeds from the event were donated to both causes.
  • It is difficult to imagine Irish rugby without Brian O’Driscoll. He will finally hang up his boots at the end of this season in a plenary goodbye to Province and Country. Today we pay homage to the rich legacy of passion, pride, success and leadership he will leave to Irish sport and life, which will inspire generations to come to achieve at the highest level. As he opens a new chapter in his life, Brian will no doubt continue to contribute to Irish public life in a very positive way no matter what pathway he chooses to take.
  • Sculpture Designer is a cooperative of lead crystal craftsmen see