Belfast Telegraph

Irish president-elect Michael D Higgins welcomed home

By Brian McDonald

Irish president-elect Michael D Higgins has thanked thousands of well-wishers who welcomed him home to Galway - where his "heart is and will forever be".

More than 5,000 people had gathered since early yesterday afternoon at the bottom of Eyre Square to welcome back the Irish president to the city.

He told the cheering crowd that he was unable to personally thank the one million-plus who had voted for him, but he was deeply grateful for their support.

"I am delighted to be back home in Galway, the place I first came to as a 19-year-old in 1960 ... it's here where my heart is and will forever be," he said.

"I want to say a very sincere thank you for this welcome home - it is a wonderful welcome home. It is the place to where I return and where I will always return because it is of Galway that I am.

"I want to say to all of you that when I take my oath of office I will do my absolute best to use all of my abilities for all of the people of Ireland.

"These abilities have been greatly enhanced by my time in Galway. I love Galway, this great city."

He added: "I think that the important thing now for us is to have a celebration and then, with determination, to move into our common shared different future.

"I hope that at the end of the seven years, people will say that I have been of some inspirational value to them at home in terms of inclusiveness and abroad, I look forward to representing Ireland."

He said he will shortly visit the Irish in Britain as he had done every year and promised to be their president also.

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