The founding president of the University of Limerick Professor Edward Walsh is handing back the honorary doctorate awarded to him by the NUI because he objects to former Taoiseach Brian Cowen receiving the honour.
Speaking on Today with Sean O'Rourke on RTÉ Radio 1, Prof. Walsh said that he was “amazed and dumbfounded when I discovered that the NUI awarded its highest honour to the person who bears most responsibility as Minister for Finance and Taoiseach for bringing Ireland to its knees.
“NUI has decided to invert the norm and grant its highest honour... the justification from NUI appears to be that it has granted honorary doctorates to most Taoisigh in the past.
“The NUI has acted imprudently and irresponsibly in honouring someone who has not performed well, who has performed very badly.”
In reaction to his comments, Chancellor of the NUI Maurice Manning told Sean O'Rourke that this is a first - nobody has ever given a degree back, so there is no protocol.
He can send it back if he wishes but, if Prof. Walsh wants to change his mind, he can do that also.
Manning spoke of his concern for the Cowen family following the reaction to Brian Cowen receiving the honour.
“What they have had to endure in the past week on social media especially has been pretty vile,” he said.
“Social media is the coward's charter. An awful lot of terrible things, nasty things have been said and I feel personally that sort of, I'm responsible for that as well.”