Ambassador Geraldine Byrne Nason, Ireland’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, received the Freedom of Drogheda at a ceremony in the town on Friday evening, in recognition in of a life devoted to public service and Irish diplomatic relations.
The Drogheda native received the honour from the Borough District of Drogheda, having been nominated by Mayor Paul Bell, at an event at her alma mater Our Lady’s College, Greenhills. She becomes the 35th recipient of the Freedrom of Drogheda, following in the footsteps of President Michael D Higgins, former President Mary Robinson, John Hume and Pope John Paul II.
Speaking to attendees at the event, Ambassador Byrne Nason spoke of her immense pride in being recognised by her home town. “I would like to thank the Borough District of Drogheda and Mayor Paul Bell for this great honour. My Drogheda roots have shaped who I am and I am very proud of where I come from: it means so much to me to be recognised with the freedom of my home town.
“I have dedicated my life to diplomatic service and I believe passionately in the power of diplomacy, and in gender equality and the valuable contribution of women to society,” she said. I love my work and I would be delighted if in some way it inspired young people from Drogheda to pursue careers in public service, where they can be part of effecting positive change.”
Previously Ireland’s Ambassador to France and Morocco, she was appointed as Ireland’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations in 2017 by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar. In a distinguished career, Ms Byrne Nason has served the UN in New York, Vienna, Geneva and Helsinki. For three years from 2011, she served as the Second Secretary General of the Department of the Taoiseach while she has also served as Ireland’s Deputy Permanent Representative to the EU.
“It’s a privilege for me to extend this acknowledgement to Drogheda native Geraldine Byrne Nason, who has made a significant contribution to Ireland’s diplomatic relations on an EU and global stage,” said Mayor Bell, who nominated for Ms Byrne Nason for the Freedom of Drogheda.
“As chair of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women, she has offered a strong voice for the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women. She has also demonstrated her impact in the area of sustainable development through her co-chairing of negotiations on the pathway for Small Island Developing States.
“In granting the Freedom of Drogheda, we acknowledge and commemorate her accomplishments as one of Ireland’s top diplomats.
“We are exceptionally proud of what Ms Byrne Nason has achieved throughout her distinguished career and that she has retained her Drogheda roots whilst representing Ireland on the international stage. The people of Drogheda are delighted that Ms Byrne Nason has agreed to receive the award and it is honour to bestow it on her today,” he added.
Councillors from Drogheda Borough Council and Louth County Council Chief Executive Joan Martin were among those in attendance at Our Lady’s College, Greenhills for the ceremony. Councillors voted to bestow the Freedom of Drogheda on Ambassador Byrne Nason at a meeting in October last year.