Cabinet to approve official visit to North


THE CABINET will approve a request from President-elect Michael D Higgins to make a weekend visit to Northern Ireland at its weekly meeting this morning.

Cabinet permission is required under article 12.9 of the Constitution, which provides that the president shall not leave the State during his or her term of office, “save with the consent of the Government”.

Government approval of presidential trips outside the State, especially to Northern Ireland, is normally a formality.

Mr Higgins is due to travel to Derry on Sunday to attend the final of the All-Island School Choir of the Year competition, which is to be broadcast on RTÉ television.

Earlier in the day, he will be present for the Remembrance Sunday service at the Church of Ireland St Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin.

The press office at Áras an Uachtaráin said these would be his first official engagements following his inauguration in Dublin Castle this Friday.

After his election, Mr Higgins said he would continue his predecessor’s work to help heal the wounds of the Troubles.

Efforts to build bridges between Protestant and Catholic communities in the North were one of the main features of President Mary McAleese’s 14 years as head of state.

Mr Higgins said he wanted to continue in that task. He added that his humanitarian work overseas had taught him that, even after peace has been established, continued efforts are required to repair divided societies.

The St Patrick’s Cathedral service will be his first official engagement.