Northern Ireland news

'Freeman of Belfast in the house' - Dáithí to receive city's highest civic honour following successful organ donation law campaign

Dáithí Mac Gabhann pictured this week at an awards event for the Belfast Giants ice hockey team. The six-year-old will become the youngest ever recipient of the Freedom of Belfast. Picture: Donate4Dáithí Twitter
Paul Ainsworth

WEST Belfast's Dáithí Mac Gabhann is to officially join names including Kenneth Branagh and Bill Clinton in receiving the freedom of the city in recognition of his role in reforming the north's organ donation law.

The six-year-old from the Ballymurphy area, who requires a heart transplant, was the face of the Dáithí's Law campaign to introduce opt-out legislation aiming to increase the number of available organ donors in Northern Ireland.

Daithi's Law comes into effect on June 1, and in honour of his role in spearheading the campaign, Belfast City Council's strategic policy and resources committee recently proposed he receive the Freedom of the City honor, becoming its youngest-ever recipient.

The move was ratified at a full council meeting at Belfast City Hall on Monday, and the youngster will receive the honor - last awarded to healthcare workers for their efforts during the Covid-19 pandemic, at a future ceremony.

Other Freedom of Belfast holders include wartime British prime minister Winston Churchill and singer Van Morrison.

In a tweet following the rubber-stamping of the decision, his family, including dad Máirtín and mum Seph described the overjoyed youngster as "Freeman of Belfast in the house!" along with a picture of Daithi in a tuxedo as they attended an awards event for the Belfast Ginats ice hockey team at Belfast's SSE Arena.

Also welcoming the honor, head of the British Heart Foundation Northern Ireland, Fearghal McKinney, said: "Dáithí and his family are an inspiration to all, particularly those in the organ donation community and all those waiting on the gift of life."

Northern Ireland news