Republic of Ireland news

Michael D Higgins sworn in to serve second term as Irish president

Michael D Higgins arrives at the Dublin Castle ceremony in which he was to be inaugurated as president for a second term. Picture by Maxwells, Press Association
Aoife Moore and

The inauguration ceremony for Irish president-elect Michael D Higgins took place at Dublin Castle this evening.

Guests started arriving from around 5.30pm and included former Irish president Mary Robinson, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, Tánaiste Simon Coveney and the Republic's health minister Simon Harris.

All five of the candidates who ran against the 77-year-old poet, professor and campaigner in last month's election were also attending.

Gavin Duffy, Sean Gallagher, Joan Freeman, Liadh Ní Riada and Peter Casey were seated together with their partners for the event.

Mr Higgins was the last to arrive, his vehicle preceded by lines of outriders.

The president-elect and his wife Sabina were welcomed to Dublin Castle by Mr Coveney.

They turned to give the waiting media a smile and wave before entering the castle.

Christian, Jewish and Islamic religious representatives opened the inauguration ceremony with a prayer.

During his inaugural speech, Mr Higgins thanked those from different political parties and communities who supported his campaign.

"I want to thank you, the people of Ireland, for the honour you have again bestowed on me, an honour I accept with all the energy of mind and heart that is required for the trust your mandate has placed on me," he said.

"I will, I have emphasised, be a president for all of the Irish people, wherever they may be and in whatever circumstances, those who supported me and those who were not among that number.

"We cannot afford to be complacent as to how we are living our lives and planning our future at local, national, European or global level.

"Inequalities are deepening and many of our people do not have the necessary securities of adequate housing, shelter, health, education, such securities and supports which would allow them to realise their rights and participate with equality."

Mr Varadkar thanked the president-elect's wife, and mentioned the couple's beloved dogs Brod and Sioda before thanking Mr Higgins himself for a life of service to Ireland.

"Throughout a lifetime of public service, President Higgins has spoken for all parts of Irish society, and all of our people," he said.

"As an academic, an artist, a TD, a senator, a minister and as president, he has always articulated a clear set of values and principles, and has spoken with courage, compassion and authenticity.

"By representing us with distinction, he has brought distinction on our country."

Michael D Higgins was elected on October 26, with 822,566 votes – 56 per cent of the vote – the biggest personal mandate in Irish history.

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