NUI’s honorary doctorate for Brian Cowen causes ruckus

By Anne Sexton - Last update

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He has not been Taoiseach since 2011, but Brian Cowen is still causing controversy. Cowen recently received an honorary doctorate from the National University of Ireland (NUI). During his acceptance speech, the former Taoiseach discussed his role in the recession and noted his regret that so many people lost their jobs.

“The greatest hardship of the recession was the loss of employment for so many of our people – something which I deeply regret,” he said.

NUI faces criticism

The NUI faced a wave of public criticism for conferring the award . One of the harshest critics was Edward Walsh, the founding president of University of Limerick (UL). Walsh said he would return his NUI honorary doctorate in protest.

Walsh expressed his “amazement” at the decision. In a letter to NUI he stated that:

“Ahern and Cowen inherited an Ireland which, in 2000, had full employment, was the fifth most competitive in the world and, after Luxembourg, had the lowest debt in Europe.”

“Through their inept stewardship, they brought Ireland to its knees and caused much hardship to its citizens. In other jurisdictions, such people would find themselves held to account by society and suffer consequences.”

NUI following tradition

NUI declined to comment. However, a spokesperson for the university noted that NUI has for decades honoured those who have held the office of Taoiseach.

NUI’s 38-person senate decided to grant the award to the controversial Taoiseach. This is believed that the senate also decided to award an honorary doctorate to Enda Kenny.

Anne Sexton

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