Fintan O’Toole conferred with honorary doctorate

NUI Galway hears how writer’s work shows how power functions through ‘creation of alternative facts’

Galway businessman John McNamara (Doctor of Laws), Fintan O’Toole of the Irish Times (Doctor of Laws), Dr Kristina M. Johnson and Prof Jane Grimson. Photograph: Joe O’Shaughnessy

Galway businessman John McNamara (Doctor of Laws), Fintan O’Toole of the Irish Times (Doctor of Laws), Dr Kristina M. Johnson and Prof Jane Grimson. Photograph: Joe O’Shaughnessy

 

THE work of Irish Times journalist Fintan O’Toole has long demonstrated how power functions through the creation of “alternative facts” and how art and life illuminate each other, according to NUI Galway (NUIG).

The journalist and author was conferred with an honorary doctorate of laws at NUIG on Friday, along with first Dublin University female engineering graduate Prof Jane Grimson, and businessman and Galway University Foundation chairman John McNamara.

Former US under secretary for energy Dr Kristina Johnson was conferred with an honorary doctorate in science.

In his citation, NUIG professor of theatre and drama studies Patrick Lonergan credited Mr O’Toole with preparing the reader for a “global present” where all political journalists require the skills of an astute theatre critic.

Visiting lecturer

Mr O’Toole, who recently received the 2017 European Press Prize and is Leonard L Milberg visiting lecturer in Irish Letters at Princeton University, has shown how “ our politics is inherently theatrical”, Prof Lonergan said.

“Taken collectively, this work demonstrates that the political, the ethical and the creative all fire from the same circuit.”

He recalled the late Seamus Heaney’s observation that “journalists like Fintan O’Toole are the ones to look to if you want your lifelines to the contemporary reopened, or the jump leads to your ethical sense connected up”.

“He has shown repeatedly that the public intellectual has a role to play in our society . . . and has done what many of our great artists have set out to achieve” in demanding Ireland should be a “better, fairer and more honest place”, Prof Lonergan said.