Trailblazing star of Oscar-winning film to be honoured by Ulster University

The trailblazing Belfast-born star of an Oscar-winning film is to be honoured by Ulster University.

Actor James Martin was part of the cast of the short film An Irish Goodbye which swept the major awards ceremonies this year.

Martin is the first actor with Down’s syndrome to scoop an Oscar.

He joins gymnast Rhys McClenaghan, poet Michael Longley and broadcaster Sean Rafferty among the cohort in Ulster University’s honorary graduates this year.

Martin said the impact of his win and recognition has been very positive.

“I will be delighted to receive this honorary doctorate from Ulster University in recognition of my contribution to An Irish Goodbye,” he said.

“We had a great team working on the movie which told a universal story that people really connected with and enjoyed watching.

“The impact it has had on people with learning difficulties has been very positive.”

Also among the honorary graduates are Sara Booth, head of competitions within the Fifa Women’s Football Division, Lyn Moffett for peacebuilding and conflict resolution, Anne McVicker, director at the Women’s Resource and Development Agency, Kieran Kennedy for building economic diversity in the north west, and Lisa Brankin, an Ulster University alumna and Ford’s current managing director of the UK and Ireland.

Ulster University vice-chancellor Professor Paul Bartholomew described graduations as a “time for celebration”.

“At Ulster University, we work to develop well-rounded, skilled and experienced graduates, and as part of this, we also identify and celebrate positive role models for our graduates to aspire to,” he said.

“These honourees are individuals making a genuine difference in their local or global community in various fields such as arts, sport, peacebuilding and community work, business, health, and social work.

“As Northern Ireland marks 25 years since the signing of the Belfast Good Friday Agreement, it is right that we both reflect on where we’ve come from, and the direction we are heading in.

“We are recognising those who have made and continue to make significant contributions to our society, and Ulster University is delighted to celebrate this cohort of exceptional role models who demonstrate leadership, perseverance, integrity, innovative thinking, determination, talent, and creativity, and they inspire us all.”

The honorary doctorates will be conferred during summer graduations which take place from June 29 until July 7, across all three Ulster University campuses.