Higgins to visit Berkeley and plant tree for victims

The President will also visit Seattle, San Francisco and Sacramento with wife Sabina

President Michael D Higgins will deliver two keynote speeches during the eight-day trip. Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

President Michael D Higgins will deliver two keynote speeches during the eight-day trip. Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA Wire


President Michael D Higgins will begin an official visit to the US West Coast this week.

The President and his wife, Sabina Higgins, are to fly out on Tuesday morning for the eight-day visit, taking in Seattle, San Francisco, Sacramento and Berkeley.

Mr Higgins is to give two keynote speeches during the trip, one on the role of technology in sustainable development, at the University of Washington in Seattle, and the other on global hunger, at the University of California, Berkeley.

He will also meet with first responders, medical staff and volunteers who assisted after the Berkeley tragedy, in which five Dublin students on J-1 summer visas and an Irish-American woman were killed last June when the balcony on which they were standing collapsed.

The official visit will begin on Wednesday afternoon, when Mr Higgins is to meet Seattle’s mayor Ed Murray, at City Hall.


On Thursday, he will visit Skyline High School, in Seattle, where Gaelic football is played, and will meet representatives of Seattle GAA, who are organising the North American Provincial Championship 2016.

He will also visit Microsoft, where over 150 Irish staff are employed, and he will visit the Seattle Centre for the Arts.

On Friday, the President is to visit the University of Washington where he will deliver his first keynote address of the trip.

He will also meet people from the Irish community in Seattle, who emigrated in the 1950s and 1960s.

In San Francisco, the President will visit the United Irish Cultural Centre to meet representatives of Irish community organisations. Mr and Mrs Higgins will also be guests of honour at a reception for 700, hosted by Consul General Philip Grant, in the Filoli House and Gardens.

On Monday, Mr Higgins will visit the Geary Theatre, before travelling to the University of California, Berkeley, to deliver a keynote address on poverty.

Later in the week, the President will speak at a lunch for US business contacts, hosted by the IDA and Enterprise Ireland and he will visit Google, where up to 100 Irish staff are based. He will also meet San Jose mayor, Sam Liccardo.

And on Wednesday 28th, with mayor of Berkeley, Tom Bates, the President will plant a tree in memory of those who died in the Berkeley tragedy, and will attend a reception for those who assisted the students who were killed and injured.

Awards ceremony

Among other events, the President will speak at a business awards ceremony with guests including philanthropists Chuck Feeney and Mark Benioff. He will also have an official meeting with governor of California Jerry Brown, in Sacramento.

Since his inauguration in November 2011, the President’s overseas visits have included the UK, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Italy, and China.