Universities of Ireland have jointly conferred an Honorary Doctorate of Laws on the founder of Atlantic Philanthropies, Charles 'Chuck' Feeney.

It is the first time ever that the nine universities have come together for a conferral. 

Former President of Ireland and Chancellor of University of Dublin Mary Robinson described Mr Feeney's contribution as "extraordinary" which is why they were having an extraordinary acknowledgement of that.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny, Minister for Education and Skills Ruairi Quinn and the heads of all the main Irish universities gathered to honour what they described as Mr Feeney's remarkable contribution to Irish society.

Science Foundation Chair Dr Patrick Fottrell said that Mr Feeney has donated almost €800m to Irish universities since 1989.

He said that over €1.25bn has also been donated to projects across the island.

Dr Fottrell said that Atlantic Philanthropies has been exceptionally generous to the island of Ireland and paid tribute to Mr Feeney's philosophy of “giving while living”.

He also lauded his important role in creating peace across the island of Ireland.

Speaking from France this morning, Founding President of the University of Limerick Dr Ed Walsh said that while Mr Feeney's importance is obvious through the extraordinary amount of money he contributed to the country, perhaps as significant or more significant is the role he played behind the scenes in the peace process.