Honorary professorship for Mitchel McLaughlin

Mitchel McLaughlin .
Mitchel McLaughlin .

Former NI Assembly Speaker Mitchel McLaughlin has been awarded an honorary professorship by Queen’s University in Belfast.

The former Sinn Féin negotiator and MLA will be attached to the Senator George J Mitchell Institute for Global Peace, Security and Justice.

Former First Minister Peter Robinson was awarded a similar honorary title last week.

Mr McLaughlin was Stormont’s first nationalist Speaker, serving in the role from 2015 until his retirement from politics the following year.

Derry-born Mr McLaughlin (72) was first elected to the Assembly in 1998 as a representative for Foyle before switching to South Antrim in 2007.

He has also served as Sinn Féin chairman and general secretary and was a key strategist and negotiator during political talks in the 1980s and 1990s.

Queen’s pro-vice chancellor for internationalisation and engagement Professor Richard English said Mr McLaughlin had played a key role in regional politics for more than 50 years.

“His significant breadth of experience will complement the work of the Senator George J. Mitchell Institute for Global Peace, Security and Justice and I look forward very much to his contribution over the next three years,” he said.

In his role as honorary professor, Mr McLaughlin will take part in workshops and masterclasses with students and will participate in events at the university.

The former Speaker’s first engagement in his new role will be a public lecture on June 26, entitled: ‘Hope and History’.

The appointment has been welcomed by Derry’s MP, Elisha McCallion, who said: “Over the past 50 years, Mitchel McLaughlin has made a massive contribution to the struggle for unity, peace and justice for all.

“As a Sinn Féin leader and negotiator, Mitchel played an an integral role in the signing of the Good Friday Agreement, he demonstrated how the real power of leadership is pivotal in building a better future for all our people.

“He remains a dedicated, selfless and determined republican and his guiding principles of respect and parity of esteem are always applied equally to political opponents. Therefore, it is no surprise that he has been selected for this professorship in Peace Studies.

“In his term as Assembly speaker, he was regarded by all as a man of integrity by people from all backgrounds and political persuasion. Mitchel was recognised as one of the most fair, reasonable and respectful in the history of the Assembly.”