The Irish government has announced the first visit to the U.S. by new Irish president Michael D. Higgins to take place in early May. He will speak at the American Ireland Fund dinner in New York on May 3, as well as address the American Irish Historical Society and the Irish Business Network.
Higgins has been off to a very good start in his presidency, pressing the issues of minority rights and making clear where the responsibility for Ireland’s perilous financial situation lies.
Higgins was a long time activist on many such issues, so his presidency has been predictable in that regard, but his outspoken comments have certainly been welcome.
Higgins spent time in the U.S. at Indiana University and is an old hand in dealing with the American Irish diaspora.
His attitude to America has always been that of a left wing Irish parliamentarian, ill at ease with many of America’s foreign policy decisions.
It will be interesting to see where his thoughts stray during his U.S. visit on many such issues.
Higgins has long been a champion of immigrant rights, especially in Britain where he has often visited the Irish community there.
We can hope that he can help move on the current discussion around the E-3 visa bill which has stalled in Congress, and do his best to help progress it.
The Irish president is heavily circumscribed for speaking out by the constitutional restraints, and Higgins has always been outspoken, so the job will really test his political patience.
It will be an interesting visit to asses Ireland’s new president and his impact on the Irish American community. He has started well given the deep regard and respect for his two predecessors Mary McAleese and Mary Robinson.
It will be informative to see him make his mark in the U.S.