Tuesday 20 August 2019

Former president Mary Robinson appointed professor in Trinity

The President has taken up the role after resigning as Chancellor of the university at the start of June

Mary Robinson Picture: Steve Humphreys
Mary Robinson Picture: Steve Humphreys

Niamh Lynch

Former president Mary Robinson has been appointed Adjunct Professor on Climate Justice in Trinity College.

The President has taken up the role after resigning as Chancellor of the university at the start of June.

The role is based in the College’s School of Natural Sciences.

A spokesperson for Trinity did not respond to a request for comment at the time of publication.

Robinson has been a vocal critic on Ireland’s approach to climate change.

Speaking earlier this month, Ms Robinson said: “As a former President, I know it's not appropriate to be engaged in policy but I'm encouraging of Ireland moving from being a laggard to being a leader on climate change which will be tough for us because we've left it much later than we should have.”

“But I do see significant change now. I think the recent report of the Joint Oireachtas Committee was very commendable and that followed the Citizens’ Assembly having given very good advice on climate so it's interesting that that was the initiative that really began the change.”

“[Tackling climate change] will be good for the country, it'll be good for the profile of Ireland, and that means we've got to have much much more dialogue at every level about it. It can't happen unless we bring people with us through dialogue,” said Ms Robinson.

“No country in the world is properly living sustainably with Mother Earth and we need to do that. We must stay at 1.5 degrees because between 1.5 degrees and two degrees, bad things happen.”

“Above two degrees, and scientists don't want to go there cause it's so dangerous. But we're on course for a three degree world," warned Ms Robinson.

Ms Robinson also confirmed that her foundation for climate justice has ceased operations, and her offices will move from a Trinity-owned building on South Leinster Street to the College’s main campus.

In November 2018, Ms Robinson was appointed as chair of the Elders, a group consisting of former world leaders that was founded by Nelson Mandela. Speaking about the appointment, Ms Robinson said: “It was an honour I tried not to accept. But the buck stopped with me.”

“I think it's a bumpy time, and we've had bumpy times before. But it is worrying - the Elders make a point of saying 'we need to always have hope' and there's good basis for hope.”

Ms Robinson has recently faced controversy surrounding her visit to Princess Latifa of Dubai in December of last year after it emerged the Princess’s stepmother Princess Haya - a friend of Ms Robinson’s - fled the United Arab Emirates and is now seeking political asylum in Germany. Princess Latifa allegedly tried to leave the country before being captured off the coast of India.

Ms Robinson has said that she had “no knowledge” of a centre for Middle Eastern Studies established in Trinity this month that is funded by a different branch of the Dubai royal family.

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