Cork gets ready to honour President Higgins

Final preparations are under way to confer the Freedom of Cork on President Michael D Higgins this week.

Fresh from his historic state visit to Britain, President Higgins will receive the city’s highest honour during a special meeting of Cork City Council at City Hall this Thursday afternoon.

He will become the sixth sitting or former president of Ireland to receive the award.

City councillors approved the award on the nomination of Lord Mayor Cllr Catherine Clancy last month.

She said she wants to honour President Higgins in recognition of his commitment to public service, and his outstanding achievements in advancing civil rights and social justice nationally and internationally.

She described him as a passionate political voice, poet, writer, academic and statesman.

The President is due to arrive at City Hall at around 2.15pm.

The visiting party will then proceed to the Lord Mayor’s office for the signing of the visitors’ book.

This ceremony will take place in private before the President will be escorted by the Lord Mayor and deputy city manager to the Concert Hall where they will walk up the centre aisle preceded by Mace bearers.

The special council meeting is due to start at 3pm.

President Michael D Higgins, 72, took office on November 11, 2011.

He was president of the Labour Party from 2003 until his resignation following his election as President.

He previously served as a TD for Galway West and was minister for arts, culture, and the Gaeltacht from 1993 to 1997.

He visited Cork earlier this year in the wake of two city centre flood events and praised the resilience of city traders.

Last year, comedians Frank Duggan and Michael Twomey — the duo behind Cha and Miah — and entertainer Billa O’Connell were made freemen of Cork.

Previous presidents of Ireland to receive the honour include Douglas Hyde, who was conferred with the honour on August 1, 1906. He went on to become president in 1938.

Sean T O’Kelly, who was inaugurated president in 1945, was made a freeman of Cork in 1948.

Éamon de Valera, Mary Robinson and Mary McAleese, also received the Freedom of Cork.

Other notable recipients include former US presidents John F Kennedy and Woodrow Wilson, former taoiseach Jack Lynch and sports stars Roy Keane and Sonia O’Sullivan.

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