2014 Press Releases

Honorary doctorate for President Barroso

6 Mar 2014
Pictured are L-R UCC President, Dr. Michael Murphy, President José Manuel Barroso and Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Eamon Gilmore prior to the ceremony (Image by Daragh Mc Sweeney/Provision)

The President of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso, has been recognised with an honorary doctorate from UCC. 

President Barroso received the Degree of Doctor of Laws before a large audience of invited guests from the world of education, business, politics, industry, government and the wider community.

During the Encomium, President of UCC, Dr Michael Murphy reflected on the role the European Union had played, both in higher education and more widely, across Ireland and Europe.

"Membership of the European Community transformed Ireland, its universities and UCC. For 40 years, not a building was erected on this campus without European co-funding. The legend “Project Aided by EU Structural Funds” has featured on the hoarding of every building site at UCC for four decades. Even in the past 5 years, our Higher Education Authority estimates that some 150 million euros of European money were spent on the infrastructure and running costs of Irish Higher Education campuses. During the past 5 years, UCC alone has earned 63m euros for research from the Framework Seven Programme, supporting many high-end jobs, economic and social innovation in our region."

President Murphy continued: "Over all those years we have frequently acknowledged the contribution of the Irish taxpayer and government. The Irish universities collectively honoured Chuck Feeney of Atlantic Philanthropies for his extraordinary investments. However, we have never formally acknowledged the contribution of the European Union, and our fellow European taxpayers to the conversion of Irish institutions from Colleges to Universities. Through honouring President Barroso, here this evening, we wish to recognise, finally, the extensive support the EU has provided to UCC and to our fellow Irish universities, enabling us to play our full part in growing a world-class higher education sector in Europe. Go raibh míle maith agat, A Uachtaráin. A thousand thanks to you, President, and to the Union you represent."

During his speech, President Barroso covered a wide array of topics, touching in particular on the challenges that Europe and Ireland had faced down as he looked to the future:

"Over these last six years the European Union has been in the eye of the storm. We are emerging stronger – better placed to manage interdependence and with economies that are gearing up to provide future growth and jobs. And we are emerging together, united."

President Barroso continued: "In this regard, I would like to make one thing clear: the European Commission has always been on the side of Ireland, one could even say one of your best friends. During the EU/IMF programme, I personally made the case to other European leaders for lower interest rates and longer maturities on Ireland's loans. And I have always said that the commitments Euro area Member States made in June 2012 should be fully respected, not just in terms of the letter of the agreement but also in terms of the spirit. This is a message I am happy to repeat here tonight. The European Commission will continue to stand by Ireland now that you have exited the programme."

Concluding the Encomium, President Murphy commented: "I have the honour and pleasure to introduce to you, for the conferment of the degree of Doctor of Laws, José Manuel Durão Barroso, a son of Portugal, for 10 years President of the European Commission and leading architect of our destiny for decades to come, champion of education and research, an independent thinker of the kind we celebrate at UCC, and at heart, a fellow academic."

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Eamon Gilmore TD, also delivered a speech at the event during which he underlined the urgency of the EU’s work to sustain the economic recovery, increase employment and ensure stability in the Eurozone.

A reception followed the honorary conferring ceremony, during which President Barroso, a former Prime Minister of Portugal, met university academics, members of local, national and international government and the business community.

This was President Barroso’s second visit to UCC. In 2008, he delivered an address at UCC on the Lisbon Treaty.

A full recording of the event, alongside the speeches of President Barroso and President Murphy, will shortly be made available. 

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