The Lord Mayor of Dublin has blasted Bob Geldof after returning his Freedom of the City award in protest against Aung San Suu Kyi holding the same honour, claiming the gesture was ironic as the singer held a British knighthood despite “the shameful record of British imperialism across the globe”.
Micheal Mac Donncha, a councillor for the Irish nationalist Sinn Fein party, was responding after the musician and activist called the Myanmar leader “a hand maiden to genocide”.
Geldof returned his Freedom of the City of Dublin award in protest over his fellow recipient’s response to the repression of Rohingya Muslims. More than half a million have fled to Bangladesh following recent violence.
In the statement, Mac Donncha “condemned the persecution of the Rohingya people and their expulsion from their homes by the military in Myanmar and the failure Aung San Suu Kyi to acknowledge, let alone condemn, what the UN has described as ethnic cleansing”.
Mac Donncha said the city council had discussed taking away the honour and the matter was still under review. But he went on to note it was “ironic that (Geldof) makes this gesture while proudly retaining his title as Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire, given the shameful record of British imperialism across the globe”.
Geldof was knighted by the Queen in 1986.
He also criticised Geldof for “grossly insulting” those who participated in the 1916 rising against Britain by comparing them to Islamic State (IS) last year, “causing offence to Dubliners and Irish people generally”.
Geldof on Monday said Suu Kyi’s association with the Irish capital “shames us all”.
In a statement, the Live Aid founder said he would hand the award back at City Hall on Monday morning, because while he was a “proud Dubliner” he did not want the ceremonial title while Suu Kyi also held it.
He said: “Her association with our city shames us all and we should have no truck with it, even by default. We honoured her, now she appalls and shames us.
“In short, I do not wish to be associated in any way with an individual currently engaged in the mass ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya people of north-west Burma.
“I am a founding patron of The Aegis Trust, who are concerned with genocide prevention and studies. Its founders built and maintain the National Holocaust Museum of the UK.
“I spoke at the inaugural National Holocaust Memorial Day at Westminster and in my time, I have walked amongst peoples who were sectionally targeted with ethnic cleansing.
“I would be a hypocrite now were I to share honours with one who has become at best an accomplice to murder, complicit in ethnic cleansing and a handmaiden to genocide.”