Áras welcome for peace campaigner
TRIBUTE:AUNG SAN Suu Kyi was warmly welcomed by President Michael D Higgins and his wife Sabina at Áras an Uachtaráin in a brief but symbolic meeting.
Mr Higgins recalled how he had first raised the issue of her plight, and that of the Burmese people, as far back as 1989 when Ms Suu Kyi was initially placed under house arrest.
Mr Higgins congratulated her on the belated presentation of the Nobel Peace Prize in Norway at the weekend and welcomed the fact that Ms Suu Kyi was now free to “participate and respond to the political life of her people”.
She was accompanied on her visit to the Áras by her son Kim. Following her meeting with the President she met Burmese campaigners and members of the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs, along with Ceann Comhairle Seán Barrett.
It was an emotional meeting for Hugh Baxter from Burma Action Ireland who knew Ms Suu Kyi and has taken an interest in Burma since 1988. He last met her when she was under house arrest in 1995 and said there had been “many false dawns” in Burma. But the situation looked to be the “most promising opportunity for people and democratisation in the country. We should do everything we can at Government and European level to encourage that.”
Trócaire chairman Bishop John Kirby was impressed by Ms Suu Kyi’s demeanour, although he said she looked tired. “It was a great experience to meet her,” he said. “She has been unremitting in her pursuit of justice and peace.”
Bishop Kirby told Ms Suu Kyi that Irish missionaries have been in Burma since 1936 when the Columban Fathers went to Mandalay at the request of the Vatican.
Trócaire has been active in Burma since 1995 and the bishop said the Irish people collected €2 million for the relief of the Burmese people following Cyclone Nargis in 2008.