MPs' fury as U.S. Senator Ted Kennedy gets honorary knighthood for Northern Ireland role
Honour: Senator Edward Kennedy, who is being treated for brain cancer
Veteran U.S. senator Edward Kennedy is to be awarded an honorary knighthood in a move which drew immediate condemnation from Conservative MPs.
The Queen has agreed to the honour for the 77-year-old Democrat - brother of assassinated U.S. president John F Kennedy - for services to the British-American relationship and to Northern Ireland, Downing Street said.Gordon Brown will announce the award formally during his address to both houses of Congress today.
But the decision to honour a man closely linked to the Irish Republican movement astonished Tory MPs.
One frontbencher said: 'I don't think it's appropriate. He hardly had the British interests at heart.'
Former Home Office Minister Ann Widdecombe said: 'It seems to me a bit of an odd choice, but diplomacy has no bounds.'
The senator was an influential figure in the Northern Ireland peace process, capable of swinging Irish-American opinion as head of the Kennedy family - descended from an emigré from County Wexford.
Ted Kennedy was pilloried by Loyalists after he compared the British presence in Ulster to America's involvement in Vietnam in 1971.
That year he called for Britain's immediate withdrawal from Ireland, declaring that Protestants who could not accept a united Ireland 'should be given a decent opportunity to go back to Britain'.