Northern Ireland news

Steve Aiken calls for creation of new 'unionism' professorship at Queen's

Steve Aiken called on Queen's University to create a professorship to study unionism. Picture by Mark Marlow

ULSTER Unionist leader Steve Aiken has called for the creation of a new professorship at Queen's University "to study unionism and its contribution to Northern Ireland".

Mr Aiken said the post would help the university's "badly-needed outreach to the unionist community" and celebrate the north's centenary next year.

The South Antrim MLA, who last week told The Irish News that he would not be engaging with Taoiseach Micheál Martin's new Shared Island Unit, made the call on Monday in the assembly.

Mr Aiken asked Economy Minister Diane Dodds to encourage the university to set up a new academic post to study unionism's contribution to the north.

"Could she therefore as part of the centenary celebrations that will be undertaken next year for our 100th anniversary, could she encourage the university as part of its badly-needed outreach to the unionist community to set up an endowed chair at the university to study unionism and its contribution to Northern Ireland?" he said.

The DUP minister said she would be "very, very happy" to support Mr Aiken's "laudable" suggestion.

Mr Aiken said it would be "particularly apposite" if the post was named after Edgar Graham, the Queen's law lecturer and UUP assembly member shot dead by the IRA in 1983 close to the university.

Sinn Féin MP Chris Hazzard responded to the Ulster Unionist leader's suggestion by tweeting: "This in a nutshell is the misplaced nostalgia that John Major warned unionists yesterday was threatening the union - so go ahead Steve, maybe even appoint John Taylor to give tutorials on how the UUP successfully governed the one party Stormont regime and all its rotten apparatus."

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Northern Ireland news