Northern Ireland news

Fr Gary Donegan receives honorary degree from Queen's University Belfast

Fr Gary Donegan was rector of Holy Cross parish in Ardoyne for 15 years. Picture by Hugh Russell

FATHER Gary Donegan will today be recognised for his outstanding contribution to peace and community work with an honorary degree from Queen's University Belfast.

Fr Donegan was rector of Holy Cross in Ardoyne in north Belfast for 15 years, which lost 99 parishioners during the Troubles - the largest loss of life in any parish.

His years at Ardoyne also included the blockade of Holy Cross Girls Primary School in 2001, a suicide epidemic which saw 13 teenagers die inside six weeks in 2004, and a series of parades disputes which finally saw agreement in 2016.

He is credited with having shown unwavering dedication to achieving peace and reconciliation for the north Belfast community, playing a key role in talks and negotiations and contributing to building a shared society.

Fr Donegan worked across the religious divide to help people dealing with issues related to legacy, economic, social and generational challenges.

A respected orator on the subject of peace building and community cohesion, he has also contributed to events at Queen's exploring reconciliation.

"This is a touching recognition by Queen's University Belfast. My heart will always be in north Belfast and I consider it both a blessing and privilege to have been there for so many years," he said.

"Peace building is often hard but always worth it. I very much admire the thought leadership Queen's University is giving on the subjects of peace, conflict resolution and transformation and I am honoured to have now become an honorary graduate."

Fr Gary Donegan will receive an honorary degree from Queen's University Belfast. Picture by Hugh Russell

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