A US Congressman has been given an honorary degree by Ulster University.

Congressman Richard Neal was awarded an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Laws by Ulster University for his “outstanding contribution to peace and conflict resolution across the island of Ireland” and also for profiling Irish concerns throughout his Congressional career.

Speaker of the United States House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi watched on at the Magee campus of the university in Londonderry while vice chancellor Professor Paddy Nixon conferred the honorary degree.

Congressman Neal went on to announce the development of Ulster University’s Hume O’Neill Washington Lecture Series, an annual lecture by an internationally-renowned conflict resolution expert, the first of which will be held during the St Patrick’s Day celebrations in Washington in 2020.

“It is with no small amount of humility that I accept this honorary degree of from Ulster University and I accept in honour of my grandmother, Mary Ward who was born in County Down,” he told students and staff gathered for the ceremony.

Professor Nixon added: “Congressman Richard Neal is today recognised and honoured by the university community for his work as a champion of inclusivity, peace and prosperity across the island of Ireland.

“Throughout his political career he has remained a steadfast and unwavering supporter of peace building efforts here.

“He was an early supporter of the establishment of the John Hume and Thomas P O’Neill Chair in Peace and has today launched the Ulster University Hume O’Neill Washington Lecture Series as he continues to support the university’s expertise in peace and conflict resolution.”