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Newry priest Peter McVerry given honorary degree for work with vulnerable

Fr Peter McVerry (back row, far right) and honorary degree recipients with Trinity chancellor Mary Robinson

A Newry priest has been honoured for his work with vulnerable young people.

Fr Peter McVerry was one of five candidates conferred with a Doctor in Laws yesterday by Trinity College Dublin.

He was honoured alongside artist Panti Bliss, Senator David Norris, Holocaust survivor, Tomi Reichental and Mozambican politician and humanitarian Graça Machel.

The university said Fr McVerry had worked with vulnerable young people in inner city Dublin for the last 40 years during which time he campaigned tirelessly for their rights.

His vision for the Peter McVerry Trust is to support all those living on the margins and to uphold their rights to full inclusion in society.

In 2014, the charity worked with 4,460 vulnerable youths. As a social activist Fr McVerry is a strong advocate for those who have no voice in society. He has written widely on issues relating to young homeless people, such as accommodation, drugs and education.

He was ordained as a Jesuit in 1975.

Speaking at yesterday's ceremony, Trinity's public orator, Professor Anna Chahoud said the first act of giving to the poor was a modest refuge for a dozen homeless boys in the inner city.

"Tireless activism and self-sacrifice succeeded in building 11 hostels, over a hundred apartments, and three centres for helping vulnerable young people break the shackles of drug addiction," she said.

"His fellow citizens have awarded him the Freedom of the City of Dublin and the Pride of Ireland Life Achievement Award. After decades of giving, is his work done? Absolutely not.

"Every time the sun rises on the city of Dublin, two families are forced into the route that leads from homelessness to hopelessness. In this escalating national emergency, he summons us to action, with a voice that has been described as one of the most prophetic voices in Ireland today."

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