Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 22 October 2014

New Irish President's first official duty is to lay wreath on Remembrance Day

Ireland's ninth President Michael D Higgins has been sworn in during a ceremony at Dublin Castle

Irish President Michael D Higgins has carried out his first official duty as Head of State when he laid a wreath at a Remembrance Sunday service in Dublin.

The President, who was inaugurated on Friday, attended the Evensong at St Patrick's Cathedral to pay his respects to the 10,000 Irish soldiers killed in World Wars One and Two.

In an address to the congregation, journalist and military historian Kevin Myers spoke of the significance of the President's attendance.

He said: “I begin today by honouring our new President, the commander-in-chief of our Defence Forces.

“Mr President sir, that is surely an honour you will hold closest to your heart — and in this place especially.”

Mr Higgins greeted members of the public on his way in and out of the cathedral.

Following hymns, a welcome by St Patrick's Dean, the Very Reverend Robert |McCarthy, an introduction by his Vicar, the Rev Charles Mullen, and the address from Mr Myers, President Higgins laid a wreath of poppies at the foot of the cathedral's war me

morial. Others in attendance were Mr Higgins' wife Sabina, Lord Mayor of Dublin, Councillor Andrew Montague, and a small number of surviving World War Two soldiers.

In his address, Mr Myers spoke of Irish soldiers and nurses who were killed during the wars, including the first victim, a career-airman from Co Cork.

“Those Irish soldiers helped to end a regime of gas chambers and the guillotine, slavery and the firing squad,” said Mr Myers.

“In those liberated lands in due course emerged what is now the European Union.

“Our bondholders there might be completely unaware of the debt that they owe the ten thousand Irish dead, who died freeing an unfree Europe.

“But at least we in this cathedral do know it. And we do remember. Which is why we are here today.”

Following the service, President Higgins made good on his pledge to continue his predecessor Mary McAleese's bridge-building efforts with Northern Ireland.

He left Dublin for Derry for RTE's All Ireland School Choir of the Year competition last night.

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