Higgins believes UK visit will ‘bear fruit’

President Michael D Higgins has welcomed the fact that Ireland will be free of the troika when he embarks upon his historic state visit to Britain next year.

Speaking publicly for the first time about the visit, President Higgins said he was very much looking forward to it and believes it will “bear very good fruit”.

“In relation to economic matters I think it will be welcome when we are in a clear space of taking our own decisions of an economic and social kind.”

He said he appreciated the warmth of the invitation from Queen Elizabeth and believed the decision to accommodate the visit in Windsor Castle was significant.

He said both countries were now in a new space after the Good Friday Agreement and his visit was a wonderful opportunity to “move into this new relationship that we have of peace and mutual respect and a celebration of things we do together”.

He said there had already been warm messages sent to Áras an Uachtaráin from the Irish community in Britain.

He also spoke of the cultural and lingual ties between the two countries and said even during times of conflict, sending Irish soccer players and race horses to Britain made sure the connections remained strong.

Following Queen Elizabeth’s laying of a wreath at the Garden of Remembrance during her historic visit to Ireland, President Higgins was asked would he be laying a wreath at the Cenotaph, but he said such details had not yet been worked out.

He said he believed his meeting with the Queen at the Lyric theatre in Belfast in 2012 was very warm and contributed enormously to a positive atmosphere towards his visit. The trade relationships between Ireland and Britain were sometimes underestimated as there was €1bn worth of goods and services a week “flying in each direction,” he added.

He it was important the visit, from Apr 8-10 next year, will be followed by increased government relationships.


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