Honorary Doctorate AwardedInez McCormack was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Laws (LLD) from the University of Ulster on Tuesday 9 July 2013. The Degree, which had been presented in a private ceremony to Inez, was awarded formally to her husband Vinny at a graduation ceremony at Millennium Forum in Derry, where Inez lived for the last 12 years of her life.

Commenting, Vinny McCormack said: “It is appropriate that Inez has been awarded this degree at Magee, as she was a student there in the early sixties, and took part in the University for Derry campaign. In the intervening fifty years she put her intellect and energy at the disposal of the marginalised. She worked tirelessly, mostly behind the scenes, to encourage women’s groups from both communities to discuss common interests like health childcare and education. In the seventies and eighties this often placed her and them in dangerous places, sometimes at odds with mainstream organisations. These discussions led her to found the Equality Coalition as a partnership with her union Unison and the human rights organisation, the Committee on the Administration of Justice, and more recently; Participation and the Practice of Rights.

Vinny continued: “Inez was a great believer in a shared future for all, but she believed that this could only be built on the bedrock of economic and social equality. She would have wanted me to remind the University of its ongoing responsibility in this area.

“She was heartened by Hillary Clinton’s remarks in Belfast last year that our politicians needed to get “out of the ballrooms and into the communities where people live.” She would also have commended President Obama’s recent remarks that there is still much work to do, and that “there are still people who have not reaped the rewards of peace.”

“There was more to Inez than the indefatigable activist, and there was evidence in her final years that her message was going global. In December of last year, while in the loving care of the staff of the Foyle Hospice, Inez had a telephone conversation with Hillary Clinton and Melanne Verveer, former US Ambassador at Large for Global Women’s Issues who will also receive an Honorary Doctorate of Laws from the University of Ulster. It was marked by the laughter and warmth of friends. Inez had a genius for friendship. I want to thank the University for making it possible for Inez to receive her honorary degree at the Foyle Hospice shortly before her death. Those who were present can attest to the joy she expressed on the occasion, and her wish that the honour should be used to highlight and continue her work for equality and justice.”

To hear Vinny’s speech in full please click here.

Professor Denise McAllister from the University of Ulster stated: “The University is honoured that the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Laws (LLD) which was awarded to Inez in a private ceremony earlier this year during her final illness, will be received formally by her husband, Vincent. It celebrates her legacy which is to be found in the fairer Northern Ireland which she helped to create and will live on in the generations of human rights activists whom she inspired through her leadership, courage, compassion, generosity and humour.”

Inez previously received an Honorary Doctorate from Queen’s University, Belfast in 2000 for her services to human rights and the community.