Tuesday, 20 January 2015

'A Voice for Human Rights' - Launching the Kevin Boyle Archive

The Professor Kevin Boyle archive was formally launched at the Hardiman Library on 28 November 2014, by the Attorney General, Máire Whelan, S.C.
The archive, kindly donated by the Boyle family since Kevin’s untimely passing in 2010, has now been catalogued by the University’s James Hardiman Library, and represents a major resource for the study and teaching of law and human rights.
The Keynote speaker at the international symposium, ‘The Human Rights Scholar-Activist or Activist-Scholar?’ hosted by NUI Galway’s School of Law and the Irish Centre for Human Rights, was Professor Sir Nigel Rodley, Chair of the United Nations Human Rights Committee. In his keynote address he said of Kevin Boyle: “His involvement in resisting discrimination on grounds of religion during the early part of the troubles must have been the defining period of his life….He was scholar and activist and advocate; the dimensions were intricately connected.”
Former President of Ireland, Mary Robinson, speaking via video presentation at the symposium, welcomed the fact that the archive of the late Professor Kevin Boyle will be housed at NUI Galway. She said: “I'm glad that his papers will enrich scholarship and activism from Galway for the betterment of the world in future.” The world-renowned human rights lawyer and scholar, Professor Kevin Boyle, served as a special advisor to Mary Robinson from September 2001, when she was UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.
Kevin Boyle with Harold Pinter, Kazuo Ishiguro and others 
campaigning for free speech and in defence of Salman Rushdie
The Kevin Boyle archive includes letters between Boyle and various others involved in the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Movement and People's Democracy, such as Bernadette McAliskey and Michael Farrell, both of whom were speakers at the recent symposium; material relating cases argued before the courts in Ireland, the U.K. and at the European Court for Human Rights, by Kevin Boyle, records from Kevin's time as founding director of the international NGO, Article 19 as well as his extensive academic career in Galway, Essex and internationally.
The archive offers a new and engaging insight into emotions, tensions and experiences in Northern Ireland from the late 1960s and onwards through the 1970s and a detailed account of the role of activism and academia as areas such as freedom of expression, press freedom and censorship, religious belief and a wide ranging cross-section of law and human rights issues.
 “The Kevin Boyle archive bears witness to a life lived greatly in the pursuit of justice by a charismatic man whose indefatigable optimism influenced so many others to continue his good work throughout the world”, said Professor Donncha O’ConnellHead of School of Law, NUI Galway.

In the late 1970s Kevin Boyle joined NUI Galway where he co-founded the Irish Centre for Human Rights with Denny Driscoll in 1980. Professor Michael O’Flaherty is now the Director of the Irish Centre for Human Rights: “I was one of thousands of those who were first introduced to human rights by Kevin Boyle. He had a transformative impact on our lives. As his successors in university centres such as the Irish Centre for Human Rights we seek to respect his legacy and pass on his passion for justice to new generations of students.”
John Cox, University Librarian, NUI Galway, explains the significance of the Boyle archive: “The sheer breadth of subject matter, as well as the vast amounts of personal correspondence, allow for new insights and understandings of Kevin Boyle’s contributions to the discipline of human rights and the practice of law. It is an honour for the Library to be entrusted with this archive, one which illustrates the far reaching effect Kevin Boyle’s work had on individual people’s lives. Now and into the future, the archive will serve as a valuable resource to researchers in the field.”
University Librarian, John Cox, presenting Joan Boyle with a copy of the
Kevin Boyle archive catalogue

The archive is accessible at the Hardiman Research Building in the Archives and Special Collections Reading Room.
For more information on the archive and to view the archive catalogue visit http://www.library.nuigalway.ie/archives/depositedcollections/featuredcollections/professorkevinboylearchive/

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