Derry City and Strabane District Council has voted unanimously to award Derry Girls creator Lisa McGee the Freedom of the City, the first woman in the city’s history to receive this accolade.
SDLP Councillor Martin Reilly brought forward the motion saying it was his ‘great honour and privilege to nominate Lisa McGee for the Freedom of the City’.
He added: “Lisa has brought so much joy and civic pride to our city and district through her writing and this work has undoubtedly put Derry and its people on a global stage.
“Right from the first episode of the first series the characters and the adventure of the teenagers in Derry Girls has captured audiences and the show itself is the most watched show since records began in 2002.
“This story of the family and the teenagers and how they lived their lives against the backdrop of the Troubles as society moves toward the Good Friday Agreement in 1998 has captivated audiences and resonates with people from all walks of life who lived through those difficult decades. It also informed a new generation about what life was like here in the 1990s.
“Of course it was started on Channel 4 and then taken on by Netflix which brought it to a global audience and that has inspired people around the world, young and old who either are from this city or who live elsewhere but have a strong connection to this part of the world.
“We know that Derry Girls is not Lisa McGee’s only success, she’s been involved in many other creations on tv that are worthy of note such as the BBC’s BAFTA nominated Being Human, the Golden Globe nominated series The White Queen. She had success with Raw on RTE and the most recent one The Deceived on Channel 5 are just some examples of her long list of successful screen works.
“This contribution to the Arts makes her a worthy nominee for the Freedom of the City and follows in the footsteps of previous recipients who have excelled in their field.
“The fact that Lisa is the first female to be put forward for the Freedom of the City in our city is a truly historic and unique occasion.”
Alliance Councillor Rachael Ferguson spoke of the ‘pride’ Lisa has brought to the city adding: “It is an historic day and she has shown a lot of our history and allowed people to understand our dark humour and how welcoming and funny we are.”
Commenting that ‘we as a city and district council owe her so much’, People Before Profit Councillor Maeve O’Neill said: “She has done an incredible thing for Derry and for Derry women in the way she has told our ordinary story in an extraordinary way.”
Former Mayor, Alderman Graham Warke described it as a ‘truly historic moment’ saying: “I was honoured during my term as Mayor to meet Lisa. What she has done for this city is amazing.”
Sinn Féin Councillor Patricia Logue commented: “Lisa McGee is first and foremost a Derry girl, so what other title could she give her tv series than Derry Girls.”
Offering his party’s support for the motion, Aontu Councillor Emmet Doyle described it as ‘fitting’.
The Mayor, Councillor Sandra Duffy said: “I have met so many people who have come to the city and they all talk about Derry Girls.
“The impact has been immense throughout the city. Lisa McGee is a true Derry girl and it is great to see her get this honour.”
Summing up, Councillor Reilly thanked the chamber for the ‘positive way’ councillors had responded to the motion.
“The Freedom of the City is the highest accolade the city can give and it’s clear that people recognise that Lisa is somebody that fits the category to be awarded this honour.”
After the motion passed unanimously, Lisa McGee posted on social media saying she was ‘stunned, shocked and very honoured’.