Sunday 22 October 2017

Breaking away from the herd

An honorary doctorate at Queen's University Belfast was an unexpected privilege, writes Ruth Dudley Edwards

I was thrilled to be given an honorary doctorate last week by Queen's University Belfast. The hospitality and the welcome were mighty. Here's a shortened version of my speech.

You're lucky to have been born in a democracy at a time of extraordinary social freedom. The women among you can break glass ceilings: the gays can be proud. You can all express your opinions loudly and fiercely. These are rare privileges.

This is a most welcome but unexpected honour. I've spent much of my professional life annoying various establishments in Ireland and the United Kingdom. Sometimes unwittingly. Sometimes on purpose. As a journalist I've been legally threatened and sometimes even sued by an odd cast of characters that includes republicans, a DUP MP and a Roman Catholic priest. And over the years I've received an entertaining mix of insults that have included 'fenian', 'neo-unionist', 'lick-spittle to the British government' and 'Islamophobe'.

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