Northern Ireland news

Queen's staff oppose Peter Robinson honorary professorship

Peter Robinson gave his first lecture on restoring government

STAFF at Queen's University Belfast have questioned the appointment of Peter Robinson as an honorary professor.

Queen's awarded the former first minister an Honorary Professorship in Peace Studies at the Senator George J. Mitchell Institute for Global Peace, Security and Justice.

The three-year post is part-time and unpaid.

He gave his first lecture last night on restoring government in Northern Ireland.

A total of 37 university staff have signed a letter expressing "deep concern and profound regret" at Mr Robinson's new role.

It refered to an apology Mr Robinson made to Muslim community leaders after he earlier defended a pastor who called Islam "satanic".

"We call for the George Mitchell Institute to make a public statement distancing itself from Mr Robinson's repugnant views," the letter said.

"We also seek immediate clarification about how and why this appointment was decided - the facts about Mr Robinson's intolerant views have been a matter of public record for some time - since it is incumbent upon the institute and Queen's University to act with caution and sensitivity to the entire academic community when conferring such honours on controversial figures."

Queen's said a member of its management was willing to meet with those who signed the letter.

Former assembly speaker Mitchel McLaughlin of Sinn Féin was awarded a similar honorary title.

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