Students protest honorary doctorate of Bertie Ahern

Muiris O'Cearbhaill

Bertie Ahern and Monica McWilliams pictured with DCU President Daire Keogh
(L-R) Professor Monica McWilliams, DCU President Daire Keogh, and ex-Taoiseach Bertie Ahern pose for a photo on the day of the ceremony.(March 2nd, Image Credit:

DRAFT Protesters disrupted an honorary doctorate ceremony in the Helix earlier month as students and alumni of Dublin City University (DCU) became unhappy with the decision to award ex-Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern, with a Doctorate of Philosophy.

The announcement of Bertie Ahern’s doctorate on social media last month received negative feedback from many alumni and students who were angry about the decision, labelling it “farcical” and “embarrassing”.

Just before the award was given to Ahern at the ceremony however, a small group of members from the Connolly Youth Movement, an Irish communist party, disrupted the event by shouting down towards the ex-Taoiseach, protesting the decision from DCU.

Several people were taken away from their seats after disrupting the occasion by security, many choosing to be taken away by force.

A member of small group who got into the award ceremony said, “We are opposed to the celebration of a corrupt politician who ruined the lives of so many young people,”. The political group later added on Twitter that the couldn’t “be idle and we cannot let an event like this go ahead unchallenged.”

DCU said in response that they acknowledged the protest and disruption adding, they respect the protestors’ right to “express their views; debate and differing ideas are the lifeblood of academia and our democracy at large.”

The ex-Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, and Professor Monica McWilliams, campaigner for peace and a signatory of the Good Friday Agreement on behalf of the Northern Ireland Women’s Coalition, were both awarded Doctor of Philosophy for their efforts toward the signing of the Good Friday Agreement. 

DCU President Daire Keogh said at the ceremony was to “honour two brave individuals from very different backgrounds, who are united in their passion for peace.

“Both are bridge builders and share an innate ability to bring people together, to find common ground, to make connections. Both played pivotal roles in the creation of the Good Friday Agreement the anniversary of which we commemorate today.”, Keogh added.

Professor Monica McWilliams referenced the Windsor Framework in her address to the ceremony, “…as we await the outcome of the agreement reached between the UK and EU on Brexit negotiations, my message to those in Belfast is to focus on the dividends for all.

“We need our young people to thrive with a decent livelihood instead of getting caught up as rich pickings for the macho men in the alphabet soup of paramilitary groups.”, she added.

Ahern said, “We have had 25 years of peace. Compare the twenty-five years since that historic Good Friday with the quarter century of bloodshed that preceded it. The difference is between light and dark.”

Ahern remarked on the 25 years of peace since the Good Friday Agreement, calling them a “golden era, compared to what was and to what could have been.”

Muiris O’Cearbhaill

Image Credit: Dublin City University –