Belfast Telegraph

Peace professor role for former Northern Ireland Assembly speaker

Mitchel McLaughlin was the first nationalist politician to be elected to the position.

Former Northern Ireland Assembly speaker Mitchel McLaughlin has been appointed an honorary professor in peace studies at Queen’s University.

Mr McLaughlin was the first nationalist politician to be elected to the position and was a Sinn Fein Assembly member for much of the last 20 years.

He has been involved in politics for more than 50 years – helping negotiate the Good Friday Agreement – and was also chairman and later general secretary of Sinn Fein.

He has engaged with unionists over issues like the role of the Irish who fought in the First World War and during his time as speaker attended many cross-community events.

In 2005 he was criticised for asserting that the IRA killing in 1972 of Jean McConville was not a crime.

The former MLA for Foyle and South Antrim will be part of the Senator George J Mitchell Institute for Global Peace, Security and Justice at Queen’s and gives his first lecture on June 26 entitled Hope and History.

Professor Richard English, pro-vice-chancellor for internationalisation and engagement at Queen’s, said: “Mitchel McLaughlin has played a key role in local politics for over 50 years, and in his work as Assembly speaker he was widely respected.

“His significant breadth of experience will complement the work of the Senator George J Mitchell Institute for Global Peace, Security and Justice and I look forward very much to his contribution over the next three years.”

Mr McLaughlin retired in 2016.

Sinn Fein Foyle MP Elisha McCallion said: “Over the last 50 years, Mitchel McLaughlin has made a massive contribution to the struggle for unity, peace and justice for all.

“As a Sinn Fein leader and negotiator, Mitchel played an integral role in the signing of the Good Friday Agreement, he demonstrated how the real power of leadership is pivotal in building a better future for all our people.

“He remains a dedicated, selfless and determined republican and his guiding principles of respect and parity of esteem are always applied equally to political opponents.”

Former first minister Peter Robinson has been similarly recognised by Queen’s and is also due to give his inaugural lecture next month.

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