Derry Girls’ Lisa McGee ‘stunned’ as she is voted first woman to get freedom of native city

Derry Girls creator and writer Lisa McGee said she is ‘stunned’ to become the first woman to receive the Freedom of the City in her home city after a unanimous vote by the local Council on Thursday evening.

Councillors voted in favour of the move at a meeting of Derry City and Strabane District Council on Thursday evening.

Reacting to the development, Lisa McGee said: “Thank you so much! Stunned and shocked and very honoured.”

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SDLP councillor Martin Reilly proposed awarding the honour to Ms McGee, in recognition of the impact her groundbreaking programme had had on the city.

Creator and writer Lisa McGee at the world premiere screening of Derry Girls season 3 in the Omniplex Cinema on Thursday evening last. Photo: George Sweeney. DER2214GS – 019

The accolade follows the airing of the third and final series of the hit Channel 4 show Derry Girls, which has been picked up by Netflix and brought to a world-wide audience.

Speaking after the vote, Councillor Reilly said: “I’m delighted that the council has agreed to put Lisa McGee’s name forward to receive the Freedom of the City. The next step is now to fix a date that suits Lisa and convene a dedicated special meeting of the council to confer the honour upon her. Since the announcement last week, there has been a very positive public reaction to the proposal. People recognise the contribution Lisa’s work has made to the civic pride of this council area and the boost to the tourism sector that her writing has created.

“Lisa will be the first woman to receive the Freedom of the City of Derry so today’s vote marks a unique and important step in our civic history. So many formidable women have left their positive mark on this city over the generations, but the Freedom of the City has been the preserve of men for far too long. I’m glad that my proposal this evening has ended that inequality and Lisa can be proud that her creation of ‘Derry Girls’ has broken that mould.”

Mayor of Derry & Strabane Sandra Duffy, speaking at the meeting last night said: “The success of Derry Girls has been absolutely immense. In the role of Mayor I have been able to meet with so many people who have come to the city. They are tourists, they come from all over and they are talking continuously about Derry Girls. It’s impact has been immense through the world.

Derry Girls, writer Lisa McGee, on the left, and actors Nicola Coughlan, Louisa Harlandm Dylan Llewellyn and Saoirse Jackson pictured at the Derry Girls premier held in The Omniplex Cinema, Strand Road last night. DER0819GS-001

“It is fantastic to see Lisa McGee, who is a fantastic ambassador for our city and district, be bestowed with this accolade. She is a true Derry Girl.”

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DUP Alderman Maurice Devenney said: “Lisa has had many accolades over the years and still many more to come and we have no problem in supporting the notice of motion.”

Alliance Councillor Rachael Ferguson said Lisa McGee ‘has brought so much pride in our city and district’.

She added: “She has brought so much pride to our city and district, she has made it a place to talk about, to come and visit. Everybody now is a Derry Girl whether they are from Derry or not and it’s amazing to see that conveyed across the globe.

“She has shown a lot of our history. She has allowed people to understand our humour, our dark humour, how funny we are. Hopefully she will be the first of many women to receive it over the coming years.”

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People Before Profit Councillor Maeve O’Neill said Lisa has “really put Derry Girls on the world stage and we as a city and district council owe her so much”.

“She’s just done an incredible thing for Derry but also for Derry women in the way she has told our great story in an extraordinary way.”

Independent Alderman Graham Warke, said it was a truly historic moment’. “What she has done for this city is absolutely amazing. The amount of tourists Derry Girls has brought to this city. It would be great to get the third series on Netflix to get it truly out there and recreate that buzz.”

Sinn Féin Councillor Patricia Logue listed Lisa McGee’s many achievements, writing credits and productions for screen and stage.

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“We in Sinn Féin are honoured to support this motion, and we hope that the honour of being awarded Freedom of the City will be Lisa’s most treasured accolade,” Colr. Logue added.

Aontú Colr. Emmet Doyle said the conferment was ‘fitting’, while Independent Colr. Paul Gallagher also welcomed the conferment.