US honorary degree for Don Mullan

Derry man Don Mullan who has received an honorary degree from a university in the United States. [140611SML 1]
Derry man Don Mullan who has received an honorary degree from a university in the United States. [140611SML 1]

A Derry man who helped win an apology for the families of those murdered on Bloody Sunday has received an honorary degree from a university in the United States.

Don Mullan, originally from Creggan, was a 15-year-old protestor on the day British paratroopers gunned down 13 unarmed men on the streets of the Bogside.

He did years of research, wrote a book which provoked a movie and the biggest, longest, most expensive investigative tribunal in Northern Ireland’s history, which prompted last year’s apology from British prime minister David Cameron.

He has also worked on humanitarian missions from Brazil to Rwanda. Among his friends he counts South African Bishop Desmond Tutu.

Mr. Mullan, who now lives in Dublin, received his honorary degree from DePaul University, Chicago, at the weekend. He talked about his life’s work at a breakfast event at DePaul’s Student Centre.

“They usually call me an author and humanitarian,” Mr. Mullan said, trying to sum up the many hats he wears.

Though dyslexic, Mullan has written 10 books and co-produced three movies including ‘Bloody Sunday’, directed by Paul Greengrass.

He is now working on a book and movie about American Frederick Douglass’ time in Ireland and the creation of a World War I memorial in Belgium where German and British soldiers stopped fighting to play soccer on Christmas Day.

Mr. Mullan was Director of AFrI (Action from Ireland) between 1979-93 during which he and colleagues developed the Great Famine Project.

He was one of the first in the Irish world to recognize the approaching 150th anniversary of The Great Famine as “a unique historical moment”.

AFrI’s project helped to generate awareness of the anniversary all over Ireland and throughout the world.

He established a “famine walk” in Co. Mayo, commemorating an actual walk of starving Irish peasants in 1848.

The walk continues as an annual event.