THE memory of a gifted Peeblesshire academic who played her own part in the Irish peace process will live on.

Elizabeth Meehan grew up in West Linton and, following a brilliant academic career, spent her final years in the village before her death at the start of 2018.

But it is away from the region that the former Peebles High School pupil has been honoured with both a building and a university prize named after her.

In London the Political Studies Association - a body which was chaired by Elizabeth during the early 1990s - has named their new premises in her honour.

And the Queen's University in Belfast, where Elizabeth was both a professor of politics and professor of European studies, students can now be awarded the Elizabeth Meehan Undergraduate Prize and also the Elizabeth Meehan Postgraduate Prize.

Elizabeth's sisters, Mary and Margaret, were both in Belfast last month for the presentations.

Mary told us: "The proposal was to convert the current prize for best overall performance in Politics at Level 1 into the Elizabeth Meehan Undergraduate Prize.

"The Postgraduate MA prize, to be known as the Elizabeth Meehan Postgraduate Prize, will be for the best dissertation performance in the following areas - equal opportunity, citizenship, British-Irish relations, or an aspect of the politics of the EU."

After being educated at West Linton Primary and Peebles High, Elizabeth enrolled at the Edinburgh College of Art.

But he she decided not to pursue her studies and began working for the Foreign Office.

Some five years later she returned to university and graduated with a first in politics from Sussex University in 1976 and a D Phil from Oxford in 1982.

Moving to Bath University in 1986, Elizabeth taught politics for three years before taking up the prestigious Hallsworth Fellowship in Manchester University.

But it was over the Irish sea at the Queen's University Belfast, where Elizabeth was to really make her mark.

In 1991 she became the first professor of politics in the whole of Ireland.

A colleague remembered that 'she came to Queen’s as a breath of fresh air, in part because her appointment marked two interesting vital departures for Queen’s – the appointment of women to senior professorships in the social sciences and the European focus she gave Politics at the University. She pioneered these two developments and helped reshape the University very significantly'.

Elizabeth held many positions, including Dean, at Queen's University before her retirement in 2005.

Away from the lecture rooms her research interests incorporated the politics of devolution, governance and accountability in the UK, and the role of the European Union in framing relations between Britain and Ireland - and she wrote and edited eight books, many journal articles, and numerous chapter contributions to significant collections on the subjects.

In 1994 she became a Commissioner of the Fair Employment Commission of Northern Ireland, and two years later was appointed to the advisory board of the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland.

And a year later became director of the think-tank, Democratic Dialogue.

Her work towards gender equality in politics was highlighted by her involvement in the Northern Ireland Women's Coalition.

She hosted many Coalition meetings in her home, where the party’s policies were shaped and formed.

And she often told with obvious glee the story of how the Coalition out-manoeuvered the naysayers just as the result of the referendum on the Good Friday Agreement was being announced.

Coalition members, including Elizabeth, and other political parties were gathered at the count centre in the Kings Hall, Belfast for the announcement.

As the television cameras of the world were poised to film political reaction to the result, a senior politician opposed to the Agreement moved to take centre stage.

In a moment of co-ordinated inspiration, the Women’s Coalition members, including Elizabeth, danced joyously in front of the politician, cutting off his access to the microphone.

The image conveyed to the world was that of celebration, reflecting the overwhelming endorsement of the Agreement on the island.

Elizabeth's portrait, which was commissioned in 2008, hangs in Queen's University Hall.

Professor Elizabeth Meehan died at her home in West Linton on Saturday, January 6.