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Queen’s honours local businessman, President of the RIA and the former Head of the NI Civil Service

Joe Sloan, Professor Mary E. Daly and Sir Malcolm McKibbin are receiving Honorary Degrees at Queen’s University Belfast today.

Joe Sloan Graduation- Tuesday 4 July

Joe Sloan, co-founder of one of Northern Ireland’s most profitable companies, the SHS Group, Professor Mary E. Daly, the first female President of The Royal Irish Academy (RIA) and Sir Malcolm McKibbin, former Head of the Northern Ireland Civil Service, are being awarded Honorary Degrees today by Queen’s University Belfast.

Northern Ireland based businessman Joe Sloan co-founded the SHS Group. From a small family business, Joe and the late Geoff Salters grew the SHS Group into a thriving business.  Today, the organisation has over 700 employees and a turnover of over £400 million. Regularly ranked as one of Northern Ireland’s most profitable companies, the company owns brands such as WKD, Shloer, Bottlegreen and Merrydown Cider and is the largest supplier of own-label herbs, spices and condiments in the UK.

Although Joe retired from his role as CEO in 2015, he is Chairperson on the Group’s Board. The SHS Group has a close working relationship with Queen's University Belfast.  The company is a member of Riddel Hall Founders’ Club and a member of the Employers Forum in the Graduate School. The SHS Group is committed to working with the university to nurture talent and develop expertise in specialist areas and also liaises closely with the Institute of Global Food Security, particularly in the area of herbs and spices.

Speaking ahead of receiving his honorary degree for distinction to business and commerce, Joe said: “I am honoured to be recognised in this manner by Queen’s University.

“Queen’s contributes significantly to local businesses and the economy in terms of producing skilled, work-ready graduates.  I look forward to continuing our association with this incredible establishment in the future.”

Mary Daly Graduation- Tuesday 4 July

Also being honoured today, is Professor Mary E. Daly for distinction in humanities.

Born in Monaghan, Professor Daly now lives in Monkstown working as the Commissioner with the Mother and Baby Homes Commission of Investigation in Ireland. She is one of Ireland’s most prominent senior historians and a member of the government’s Expert Advisory Group on Commemorations.

Professor Daly was the President of The Royal Irish Academy (RIA) – Ireland’s leading body of experts in the sciences and humanities until March 2017. She is the first and only female to hold the role in the Academy’s 230 year history. Other roles have included visiting positions at Harvard and Boston College, Principal of UCD College of Arts and Celtic Studies and Emeritus Professor of History at UCD.

Before receiving her degree for distinction in humanities, Professor Daly commented: “I am delighted to receive an honorary degree from such a fantastic establishment whose impact extends far beyond Belfast, Ireland and the UK.”

Malcolm McKibbin Graduation- Tuesday 4 July

Sir Malcolm McKibbin was appointed Head of the Civil Service in October 2011, leading more than 23,500 civil servants. As part of this role he has served as Permanent Secretary of the Executive Office and Secretary to the Northern Ireland Executive, making him the most senior adviser to the First Minister and the deputy First Minister.

Sir Malcolm has represented Northern Ireland at the highest level across the UK and abroad, and is currently involved in the preparation of the bid for Ireland to host the 2023 Rugby World Cup.

He was awarded the prestigious Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath for his public service in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list in 2016.

Before receiving the Honorary Degree for distinction in public service, Sir Malcolm said: “I am delighted to receive this honour from such a highly respected and world renowned institution such as Queen’s University. Queen’s is central to the future development of our economy and society here in Northern Ireland, producing global citizens in their students. I am privileged to be graduating along with these students today.”

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