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Former Taoiseach Brian Cowen has been awarded an honorary doctorate

Academics at the Dublin Castle ceremony reflected on a political career that encompassed four ministries and a premiership.

Image: Sam Boal via RollingNews.ie

FORMER TAOISEACH AND ex-Fianna Fáil leader Brian Cowen has been awarded an honorary doctorate by the National University of Ireland at Dublin Castle today.

The Chancellor of the National University of Ireland Dr Maurice Manning conferred the honorary degree Doctor of Laws (LLD) on the former Irish leader as academics reflected on his long, and at times gruelling, political career.

In her introduction, Professor Mary E Daly described Cowen as “passionate about Ireland, but claims to be more of a pragmatist than a visionary – a practical patriot like his hero Seán Lemass”.

Quoting from previous speeches of Cowen’s, she said:

As Minister for Health from 1997 to 2000, his greatest achievement was to secure a major expansion in services for [people with] intellectual disabilit[ies].

brian cowen 20_90519007 Former taoisigh Bertie Ahern and Brian Cowen at Dublin Castle this afternoon. Source: Sam Boal via RollingNews.ie

However, his vision eventually gave way to crisis management, she said, and “unprecedented challenges to political institutions and vilification of government ministers” ensued.

The story of the Irish economy after 2008 is well-known: the bank bailout; property crash; soaring budgetary deficits; reductions in spending; tax increases, culminating in a request for a bailout and the arrival of the Troika in November 2010.

Cowen retired from politics following the collapse of the Fianna Fáil-Green Party government in early 2011 after serving as Taoiseach since May 2008.

He presided over the country as the Irish economy began to collapse and austerity policies were implemented as part of the bailout programme.

Prior to that, he served as Minister for Transport, Energy and Communications in 1993-1994, Minister for Health from 1997 to 2000, and Minister for Finance from 2004-2008.

He was also foreign affairs minister, and helped implement the Good Friday Agreement.

Read: Brian Cowen has joined the board of a European think tank funded by big business

Read: What can Fine Gael learn from previous heaves against long-serving party leaders?

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