Cha, Miah and Billa to be given freedom of Cork City

Cork City Council is to confer the freedom of Cork on three entertainers who have brought “joy to generations of people”.

Councillors last night supported Lord Mayor Cllr John Buttimer’s proposal to make Frank Duggan and Michael Twomey, aka Cha and Miah, and theatre star Billa O’Connell, freemen of the city next month.

Sinn Féin councillor Chris O’Leary said the three entertainers are as “synonymous as Shandon with the city”.

It is the first time in the history of the local authority that three people will be presented with the award.

But in spite of the councillors’ support for the nominations, a number of local representatives expressed concern that the award was becoming “diluted” because of the number of nominations, and expressed the view that procedures around the process needed to change.

“They are three honourable individuals that have served the city well in culture and the arts, but I think three is too many. I think it dilutes the honour,” Independent councillor Kieran McCarthy said.

Fellow Independent Mick Finn agreed, and said 11 people had received the award since 2004, which he maintained; “devalues the award”.

Fianna Fáil councillor Tim Brosnan said that consultation was needed about the process.

“We need to consider the manner in which the freedom of the city is being handed out. In order to bring some element of control… so that a future Lord Mayor doesn’t recommend a winning Cork hurling or football team [being conferred with the honour]”.

Cllr Kenneth O’Flynn (FF) said the nomination process should be “taken at committee level”.

Former Lord Mayor, Fianna Fáil councillor Terry Shannon said: “We must review the procedure by which this actually happened,” in relation to the three nominations. “It’s something we need to deal with,” he said, adding that the nominees made a “lifetime contribution to the business of the city”.

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