Humanist element to inauguration of Higgins


PRESIDENT-ELECT Michael D Higgins will “pause and reflect” ahead of his inauguration on Friday in the room in Dublin Castle where James Connolly was held before being executed.

Mr Higgins, who has requested a “humanist” element to the ceremony in addition to traditional prayers, will spend a brief period of time in the Connolly Room, named in honour of the 1916 leader, before entering St Patrick’s Hall.

“Before going into St Patrick’s Hall, he will pause and reflect in the room where James Connolly was held before execution . . . In addition to the usual prayers, there will be a humanist reflection,” a source confirmed.

Protocol dictates that Taoiseach Enda Kenny remain inside St Patrick’s Hall when the President-elect arrives at Dublin Castle, so Mr Higgins will be greeted outside by Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore and the most senior Minister. In this instance, Minister for Education Ruairí Quinn is expected to greet Mr Higgins in the absence of Minister for Finance Michael Noonan.

Between 250 and 300 members of the Defence Forces will be involved in various aspects of the ceremony. A motorcycle escort of honour, similar to that which attended Queen Elizabeth during her visit in May, will accompany Mr Higgins from his residence to Dublin Castle.

Once Mr Higgins receives his presidential seal of office, the presidential flag will be raised at both Áras an Uachtaráin and Dublin Castle, and a 21-gun salute will sound at Collins Barracks. Two bands of the Defence Forces will play – one inside the castle and the other outside. After the ceremony, Mr Higgins will be invited to inspect a 107-strong guard of honour. A ceremonial march-past will then be performed, accompanied by a fly-past involving four Air Corps aircraft. Mr Higgins will then be escorted to the Áras by the escort of honour.