President of the European Commission José Manuel Barroso has repeated his support for efforts by the Irish Government to break the link between sovereign and bank debt.

Mr Barroso, who was this evening conferred with an honorary law degree at University College Cork, said the OECD is increasingly citing best practice examples drawn from the Irish economy and that Ireland's presidency of the EU last year was "universally admired".

He also said he admires and respects the courage and resilience of the Irish people and acknowledged that Irish families have made "big sacrifices".

Ireland has shown what can be done if there is a determined effort across all parts of society and politics, he said.

President of University College Cork, Dr Michael Murphy said by honouring President Barroso, the university wanted to acknowledge the extensive support the EU has provided to Irish universities.

Speaking at the conferring Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Eamon Gilmore underlined the urgency of the European Union's work to sustain economic recovery and increase employment.

His comments came at the conferring of a Doctor of Laws on European Commission President José Manuel Barroso.

He said negotiations on banking union need to be completed and Europe needs implementation of the Single Supervisory Mechanism and the Single Resolution Mechanism and there is a need for direct bank recapitalisation - "for Ireland in particular, this is unfinished business."

The Tánaiste held a bilateral meeting with President Barroso following the conferring ceremony.

A group of about 60 people, including protesters, gathered on campus to greet Mr Barroso this evening.

Up to 30 of those present were protesting over his visit and the honorary conferring, including members of the Ballyhea Says No group.