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Top New York hotelier checks in for doctorate

One of New York's leading hoteliers and a prize-winning author is to be honoured by Queen's University today.

John Fitzpatrick, chairman of the Fitzpatrick Hotel Group which operates three hotels in New York City, will receive an honorary doctorate for services to business and commerce while successful novelist and academic Ruth Dudley Edwards will pick up an honorary doctorate for distinction in literature.

Norma Sinte, director of development and alumni relations at Queen's, will deliver the citation for Mr Fitzpatrick today.

She said: "Fitzpatrick Hotels became the first Irish-owned hotel company to operate in the United States after John Fitzpatrick moved from Ireland to New York in the late 1980s to expand the family business.

"As well as being an astute businessman, John is committed to charity work in the US and here in Ireland. Through a memorial fund set up in honour of his late parents, he has been instrumental in raising over €1.3m (£1.1m) for various charities, including the Corrymeela Community and Barretstown, an organisation dedicated to bringing joy and comfort to children with cancer and other illnesses in Ireland.

"In August 2008, John received an OBE in recognition of his exceptional contribution to peace and reconciliation in Northern Ireland and in 2010 he was named Irish American of the Year in recognition of his humanitarian and charitable commitments. I am delighted that he can add an honorary degree from Queen's to that list of accolades."

Ruth Dudley Edwards is the prize-winning author of 10 books on Irish and British history, a successful crime novelist and a regular media contributor.

Professor Ed Larrissy, head of the School of English at Queen's, who will deliver the citation at this afternoon's graduation ceremony, said: "Ruth Dudley Edwards is an outstanding academic, a major crime fiction writer, a key opinion former in respect of British-Irish relations, and an honoured and respected advocate of reason, understanding and fairness in Irish politics and affairs.

"Her extensive writing on Irish history includes interpretations of events in Northern Ireland, most notably in her book Aftermath: The Omagh Bombings And The Families' Pursuit Of Justice, which told the story of the successful landmark civil action brought against the Omagh bombers by the victims' families."

Belfast Telegraph