Northern Ireland news

Down GAA star Sean O'Neill among Queen's honorary degree awards for 2019

Down GAA star Sean O'Neill will receive an honorary degrees from Queen's University Belfast

THREE-time All–Ireland winning Down GAA football star Sean O'Neill is among more than a dozen distinguished names set to be awarded honorary degrees from Queen's University Belfast this year.

The Newry-born left-wing forward was a key figure in the Down side which won Sam Maguire three times in the 1960s before going on to coach Queen's senior football team in the early 1980s.

Also honoured by the university for distinction in sport is world superbike champion Jonathan Rea.

Academics in line for QUB honorary degrees this year include Linda Colley, professor of history at Princeton University and member of the research committee of the British Museum, and Martin McKee, professor of European public health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

Other key figures from the world of academia include Julie Chen, a world-leading expert on nanotechnology and innovations in materials processing and manufacturing, Zhang Guangjun, president of Southeast University, Nanjing, and Zhenhua Tang, associate professor at Shenzhen University.

Distinguished names from the fields of business and commerce to receive degrees include Frank Kirkland, the chief designer in civil aerospace for Rolls-Royce, engineer Dame Judith Hackitt, former NI Science Park CEO Norman Apsley, venture capitalist Jayne Brady and Eugene Murtagh, founder and chairman of the Kingspan Group.

The BBC's Canadian chief international correspondent Lyse Doucet will receive an honorary doctorate alongside BBCNI presenter Mark Carruthers.

Pipe major for the all-conquering Marshal Montgomery Pipe Band, Richard Parkes will receive an honorary degree, as will Co Antrim chef Clare Smyth.

Greg Quinn, British high commissioner to the Co-operative Republic of Guyana and a native of Northern Ireland, and Margaret Murphy, an external adviser for the World Health Organisation (WHO) are also among the recipients.

Meanwhile, singer, songwriter and violinist Sharon Corr has received an honorary degree from the Open University in London for her "exceptional contribution to education and culture".

The award recognised charitable work including the Nelson Mandela Foundation AIDS awareness campaign, Oxfam Ireland and as a patron of the Integrated Education Fund.

“I'm so touched and incredibly honoured to receive this degree today. My music and my charitable work have been a source of great happiness to me and to be honoured for that is a dream come true,” the singer said.

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