Edward Walsh was a true innovator and talented academic whose efforts founding the University of Limerick changed the face of Higher Education in Ireland. This progressive institution in its wonderful Shannonside Campus at Plassey just outside Limerick City provides a wonderful student experience with strong links to local industry helping to create prosperity in Ireland’s Mid-West Region. Limerick University’s founding president now plans to hand back his honorary doctorate to the National University of Ireland in protest of its decision to honour former Taoiseach Brian Cowen. University of Limerick founding president, Edward Walsh, wrote to the NUI this week to express his “amazement” at the decision.
Walsh also informed them of his plan to rescind the honorary doctorate he received from them 19 years ago. According to the Irish Times, the controversial figure said: “[Bertie] 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.”
He added: “The NUI has inverted such norms and lowered its own standing to that of those it has so imprudently honoured.”
There has been a wave of public criticism in the wake of the NUI decision to award Biffo with an honorary doctorate on Wednesday. Cowen’s reward followed a decision of a 38-person NUI panel, which includes senior academics as well as members nominated by the Government.
It is understood that during the same vote, members also decided to award an honorary doctorate to former Taoiseach Enda Kenny. This ceremony is expected to take place later this year. A spokeswoman for NUI declined to comment on Biffo’s prize, beyond stating that it had been its tradition for decades to honour those who have held the office of Taoiseach. The NUI has since received dozens of mostly critical emails and messages since Cowen’s honorary doctorate ceremony.
The story of the Irish economy after 2008 is well-known: the bank bailout; property crash; soaring budgetary deficits; reductions in spending; tax increases, culminating in a request for a bailout and the arrival of the Troika in November 2010. It is a text book example of economic incompetence which squandered the real gains the Irish economy was making aggravated by “stroke politics” designed to give the illusion that politicians were delivering for “their people” while engaged in corruption and personal enrichment of cronies. It is a shameful legacy which the short lived memories of the Irish Electorate have perpetuated to this day as the elect a rag tag cabal of tax evaders, bankrupts, dynastic spawn and people found guilty by long winded public enquiries of corruption to “represent” them.
Mr Cowen was at the helm of Ireland and of Fianna Fáil which styles itself as “The Republican Party” when Ireland shamefully lost effective sovereignty. His Fianna Fáil permitted our banking industry to earn the sobriquet of “The Wild West of Banking” in the ‘New York Times’. Brian Cowen and Bertie Ahern presided haplessly over the economic incompetence of the Celtic Tiger which saw Ireland squander its hard won gains on a peasant property bubble where everybody thought they would get rich by buying our own land “Ah sure, they are not making any more new land, the price can only go up!” said the politicos who could have been extras in John B. Keane’s play “The Field.”
— IrishIndependent (@SrTz7Yo3O6SqGpq) July 29, 2017
And NUI thought it a good idea to honour such gross failure. Is there any honour for the thousands of young people forced out as exporting our talented young people on the hoof once again became Ireland’s primary export? Any recognition to those who lost their homes, businesses and, in some cases, took their own lives thanks to cannonball economics presided over by the likes of ‘Dr’ Cowen and Bertie Ahern?
One final point which has been forgotten by Irish honorary doctorates in the past. There is a world of a difference between an earned doctorate and an honorary doctorate. As a token of respect to those who have had to sweat over many years to actually earn a doctorate recipients of honorary doctorates do not style themselves as “Doctor.”
Please Biffo, do not embarrass yourself and Ireland any further by crassly styling yourself as “Dr. Brian Cowen.”
Today, powered by its readers and contributors, from its cyber eyries in Ireland and the centres of the Irish Diaspora The Eagle casts its Cold Eye on Life and Death and much in between.