Northern Ireland

Colin Harvey signals determination to continue work following criticism from Queen's colleague Liam Kennedy

Professor Liam Kennedy
Professor Liam Kennedy

COLIN Harvey has insisted he won't be "derailed or distracted" from his academic work by continuing public criticism from unionist politicians, commentators and colleagues.

His remarks were in response to an open letter written by his Queen’s University colleague Liam Kennedy, emeritus professor of history at the Institute of Irish Studies.

Prof Kennedy said he had invited the Ireland's Future board member "for a cup of coffee and conversation" more than a year ago.

He said he has yet to receive a reply from the former human rights commissioner, who has previously asked critics, including former DUP leader Edwin Poots, to "come and have a cup of coffee or tea with me".

The former West Belfast election candidate and critic of IRA punishment attacks said that he had twice asked Prof Harvey if the 'armed struggle' was justified during a seminar on constitutional at Queen’s last year.

"No direct answer was forthcoming," he wrote in a letter to the News Letter.

"I didn’t want to burden unduly a busy colleague, and a professor of human rights law to boot, so I let it lie."

Prof Harvey recently issued a statement rejecting violence, including "state and non-state, past, present, and future, physical violence, narrative violence, linguistic violence".

In response to Prof Kennedy's letter, he said: “I remain content to allow my life-long work, arguments, public engagement, and the overwhelming levels of public and private support - recently discussed in depth with the Irish News - to speak for themselves.

"My views are well known. It is essential not to be derailed or distracted from the necessary work."