An honorary doctorate for Brian Cowen


Sir, – I agree it does not look good giving Brian Cowen an honorary doctorate after he was so closely associated with the national disaster of the financial crash in 2008. It would be the same as a British university honouring Tony Blair after the Iraq debacle or David Cameron after he called the EU referendum of 2016.

However, there seems to be a severe case of scapegoating on the Letters page of The Irish Times. It wasn’t all Fianna Fáil’s fault. After all, no one in the Dáil, or elsewhere, foresaw the full extent of the global financial meltdown that was coming; and prior to the crash, virtually none of our public representatives was in favour of reining in public spending. Rather they almost all wanted to increase it.

If anything was to blame for the crash and its horrendous aftermath, it was the deregulated and dysfunctional world financial system. Also, the way the single currency was set up, combined with the eagerness of EU apparatchiks to let the tremors of the financial earthquake pass through the bigger European nations, and alight in their full devastating effect on “peripheral” countries, like Ireland, Greece and Portugal.

For our part, our old friend groupthink, and Ireland’s perennial suspicion of, even “disgust” at, dissenting voices, played a big part in exacerbating the damage done here. – Yours, etc,


Arbour Hill, Dublin 7.

Sir, – In the mini-hoopla following Brian Cowen’s honorary doctorate award, I am disappointed that NUI’s only comment is that it was following tradition (Front page, July 29th). If any institution should be cautious about using tradition as a rationale, surely a university should.

The University of Oxford has a similar tradition for all UK prime ministers who are Oxford graduates, yet broke with this tradition in its refusal to give the award to Margaret Thatcher because of her cuts to education funding. – Yours, etc,


Michigan, US.