NUI’s honorary doctorate for Brian Cowen: letter-writers react – day two

Letters to the Editor

The National University of Ireland conferred an honorary doctorate on the former taoiseach Brian Cowen at a ceremony in Dublin Castle.


Sir, – On Thursday I wrote to the chancellor of the National University of Ireland (NUI) expressing my amazement at the decision of his university to grant Brian Cowen an honorary doctorate and asking how I proceed to have the NUI honorary doctorate I received in 1998 rescinded. – Yours, etc,


Founding President,

University of Limerick, Limerick.

Sir, – Could the National University of Ireland not have foreseen the unpopularity and inappropriateness of its action? Has the governing body of NUI not seen how Brian Cowen’s government brought Ireland to its knees?

As an alumnus of both UCD and UCC I feel the need to distance myself somehow from NUI and its colleges.

Educational institutions should exercise good collective judgement and my alma mater has failed me. I am embarrassed by its action.

Perhaps in the future NUI could ballot its alumni before awarding honorary doctorates. – Yours, etc,


Dublin 4.

Sir, – The inappropriateness of the NUI’s decision to award Brian Cowen an honorary doctorate is only matched by his chutzpah in accepting it! – Yours, etc,

Co Westmeath.

Sir, – The former taoiseach Brian Cowen quoted Irish philosopher John O’Donohue at length in his acceptance speech at Wednesday’s NUI conferring. My favourite John O’Donohue quote is very short: “The first duty of privilege is absolute integrity.”

I doubt if Brian Cowen and Bertie Aherne will ever take ownership of the devastation they left in their wake. I share the outrage of the majority of the Irish population at this unearned award. – Yours, etc,




Sir, – Martyn Turner’s witty cartoon “The Doctor posts his thesis” (July 28th), was very much on the ball and extremely amusing, but for sheer hilarity it was only trotting after Alan Betson’s colourful front page photograph in your previous day’s issue of Doctors Brian Cowen and Bertie Ahern. – Yours, etc,


Dún Laoghaire, Co Dublin.

Martyn Turner: Friday July 28th, 2017
Martyn Turner: Friday July 28th, 2017

Sir, – Instead of stoking up a sense of victimhood by criticising the EU response to our self-induced financial crisis, it would be more helpful to public discourse if Mr Cowen would enlighten us on the reasons he and his cabinet colleagues ignored a 1999 IMF warning on the dangers of a real estate boom.

“In light of the rapid growth in credit and strong housing price increases, a number of directors expressed concern about the risks of an asset price bubble and the potential vulnerability of the banking system. Directors stressed the need to enhance the forward-looking aspects of regulatory policy and, in this regard, welcomed the supervisory authorities’ recent initiative to assess the financial system’s vulnerability to specified macroeconomic shocks. They felt that a peer review, particularly by supervisors from a country that had undergone a real estate boom, might be helpful . . .. If the risks of overheating and a subsequent hard landing to a more sustainable rate of growth is a concern, what policy actions can be taken in the context of monetary union?” (IMF warning, Irish Times, August 21st, 1999).

His bleating that “problems should have been identified earlier” hides serious weaknesses in our way of governing ourselves. Pointing the finger at the EU distracts from years of avoidance of responsibility by those elected and appointed to run our institutions. – Yours, etc,


Dublin 9.

Sir, – I think Brian Cowen thoroughly deserves his honorary doctorate. Anyone who can outbrazen Bertie Ahern deserves such an accolade. – Yours, etc,


Dalkey, Co Dublin.

Sir, – Let’s have some balance here. If an eminent university decides to award an honorary doctorate to Mr Cowen, it must have followed some noble criteria and reviewed the relevant historical context before taking such an action.

Using the same measures, it now behoves the NUI to award the other 4.5 million honorary doctorates. – Yours, etc,


Firhouse, Dublin 24.