Belfast Telegraph

Dignitaries and wellwishers attend historic presidential inauguration

The ceremony reflected many of Michael D Higgin’s passions, including poetry, music, the Irish language and a diverse range of voices.

Michael D Higgins, accompanied by his wife Sabina (Niall Carson/PA)
Michael D Higgins, accompanied by his wife Sabina (Niall Carson/PA)

Hundreds of people from across Ireland descended on St Patrick’s Hall in Dublin Castle for the president’s historic inauguration.

A number of government ministers joined Chief Justice Frank Clarke, Garda Commissioner Drew Harris, EU Commissioner Phil Hogan, public service representatives and dignitaries from more than 25 countries to watch Michael D Higgins be sworn in as president of Ireland for a second term.

The ceremony reflected many of Michael D Higgin’s passions, including poetry, music, the Irish language and a diverse range of voices from different communities.

It began with homilies from Christian and Jewish religious representatives and Ahmed Hasain, from the Islamic Cultural Centre of Ireland, sang verses from the Koran.

A humanist minister made a speech praising the president for his inclusivity, saying: “We are grateful to live in an country that values freedom of speech and religion.

“The president’s vision of a republic of equality is one that we share.”

Irish premier Leo Varadkar made a short speech, in which he thanked the president for a lifetime of service, and also thanked the president’s wife Sabina, telling her: “It’s your day too,” to a round of applause from the audience.

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Leo Varadkar arrives at Dublin Castle (Niall Carson/PA)

The Taoiseach also thanked those who could not be in attendance, referring the president’s beloved dogs Brod and Sioda, to the audience’s laughter and applause.

The ceremony featured singer Celine Byrne, traditional Irish fiddle music by Caoimhin O Raghalliagh and the combined bands of the Defence Forces School of Music.

Mr and Mrs Higgins opted to showcase Irish fashion during the inauguration.

The president wore a suit by Dublin-based tailor Declan Abrahams, while Ms Higgins wore a dress and coat by Tipperary-born designer Louise Kennedy.

Also present in the hall were the five candidates who ran against Mr Higgins in last month’s election.

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Michael D Higgins and his wife Sabina review members of the Defence Forces at Dublin Castle (Niall Carson/PA)

Liadh Ni Riada, Peter Casey, Gavin Duffy, Sean Gallagher and Joan Freeman attended the ceremony with their respective partners and were seated together in a group.

Mr Higgins made an impassioned speech which touched on climate change, domestic violence and a more inclusive Ireland.

At the conclusion of his speech, a standing ovation went on for a number of minutes.

Leaving the hall, Mr and Mrs Higgins greeted and hugged friends and wellwishers as they left, momentarily slowing the procession.

Mrs Higgins went on to approach the section cordoned off for media and hugged a female journalist as the president looked on.

Mr Higgins left the hall for Dublin Castle’s Upper Yard where he was greeted by around 70 children from schools in Dublin, Louth, Meath, Donegal and Fermanagh, in partnership with the Shared Education Signature Project, Northern Ireland.

He inspected the guard of honour as the band played music composed by the former director of the Defence Forces School of Music, Colonel JR McGee.

The couple then held a reception in the State Apartments in Dublin Castle for a number of invited guests.

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