Dublin city councillors have passed a motion to grant the Freedom of the City to former US president Barack Obama and his wife, the former first lady Michelle.

Proposing the motion Lord Mayor Cllr Brendan Carr (Lab) said the honour was to recognise Mr Obama's "moderating and progressive" influence on the world stage.

It was also to acknowledge the work of Mrs Obama in access for women to education and her campaigning on behalf of refugees.

The Lord Mayor said Mr Obama's progressive path was in stark contrast to the "concerning trajectory" of the present incumbent who he said was making the world a more "xenophobic, intolerant and unstable place".

The motion was carried without debate by 30 votes in favour with 23 against and 3 abstentions.

Lord Mayor Carr confirmed that Mr and Mrs Obama had confirmed through contacts that they would be happy to accept the Freedom of Dublin. 

He also said that they see it as the perfect opportunity for another visit to Ireland. 

A meeting will be held with US Embassy officials within days and the Lord Mayor said he is hoping that a visit could be organised by the end of the year.

Earlier, he told councillors that there is precedent for a couple to receive the honour as it was granted to the Crown Prince and Princess of Japan in 1985 for their diplomatic activities.

Councillors from People Before Profit and the Anti-Austerity Alliance parties had opposed the motion and tried unsuccessfully to debate the issue.

 The Lord Mayor said that Mr Obama had regretted some US actions in the Middle East and said the honour was not a "canonisation" of the couple.

He said there was precedence in nominating international figures as Bill Clinton, Nelson Mandela and Aung San Suu Kyi had previously received the honour.

Mr and Mrs Obama visited Ireland in May 2011 which included a visit to his ancestral home in Moneygall, Co Offaly.