Universities confer degree on Feeney
The Universities of Ireland, North and South, have conferred an honorary degree on the philanthropist Chuck Feeney in Dublin Castle this afternoon.
Former president Dr Mary Robinson, chancellor of the University of Dublin, said Mr Feeney had used his wealth to help people anonymously.
"The beneficial effects of Mr Feeney's dedication to the achievements of our community are incredible," she said.
She said Mr Feeney's Atlantic Philanthropies had made extraordinary investments both within and outside the walls of educational institutions, "and nowhere more so than on the island of Ireland".
She also noted Mr Feeney's commitment had helped break down social barriers in Northern Ireland.
Dr Robinson said it was fitting that the universities had come together to award him a Doctorate of Laws "as a mark of honour".
Mr Feeney responded with modesty.
"I feel embarrassed as really I should be from all this attention but I want to say that I genuinely and sincerely appreciate your kind words" he said.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny said he wanted to thank Mr Feeney for everything he had done for Ireland and said thousands of Irish students "owe so much to Chuck Feeney".
Minister for Education Ruairi Quinn also attended the ceremony.
Dr Patrick Fottrell, chairman of Science Foundation Ireland, described Mr Feeney as a "Renaissance man".
Dr Fotrell said Mr Feeney had donated anonymously until 11 years ago and only agreed to go public to encourage others to follow his example of "giving while living".
NUI chancellor Maurice Manning described the event as a unique and historic occasion because it was the first time every university in Ireland had come together to honour "a very special person".