Michael D Higgins to visit Derry on first official presidential outing

Ireland’s ninth president will travel to Derry City next Sunday, in his first official engagement.

His decision to cross the border will be seen as an embrace of an All Ireland role by the new president.

Michael D Higgins will be inaugurated this coming Friday in Dublin.

It used to be highly controversial for an Irish president to cross the border but frequent visits by Mary Robinson and Mary McAleese,a Northern native, dispelled much of that.

However, Higgins’ decision to make his first official function an event in Northern Ireland will raise eyebrows there.

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The Irish president has been invited to present the winning trophy at the RTE's school choir of the year contest, which will be held in the Millennium Forum.

Last week O’Higgins and his wife Sabina made their first visit to the president’s residence at Áras an Uachtaráin, where the outgoing president, Mary McAleese gave the couple a tour of their new home.

Meanwhile Clare Councillor, Pat Hayes, has called for Eamon De Valera’s black Dodge car to be made available to O’Higgins during his first visit home to the Banner county.

“I am delighted another Clare man has been elected as President of Ireland and I look forward to seeing him enjoying the space and luxury provided in Eamon de Valera’s car. This would be a great marketing and public relations event for the county and would help to boost tourism in the future,” he told the Clare Champion.

“Michael D is entitled to get a spin in de Valera’s car considering he is the third Clare man to become President. The car has all the symbols of the presidency, the Tricolour and a badge on its roof so it would be more than suitable to be used by the new President,” he added.