Michael D Higgins praises Irish-German relationship

President and Tánaiste Simon Coveney in Germany on three-day state visit

Michael D Higgins will visit the Brandenburg Gate during his visit to Germany. Photograph: Getty Images

Michael D Higgins will visit the Brandenburg Gate during his visit to Germany. Photograph: Getty Images

 

President Michael D Higgins has praised the “stability and strength” of Irish-German bilateral relations as he begins a three-day state visit, starting on Wednesday morning in Berlin.

The president, accompanied by Sabina Higgins and Tánaiste Simon Coveney, will use the four-state visit to reinforce shared values, explore new co-operations and underline the “profound challenges” Ireland faces over Brexit. “Ireland is an island on the edge of Europe, Germany lies at the centre of our continent but neither geography nor size need constrain our capacity for cooperation,” writes Mr Higgins in an oped piece for Wednesday’s Frankfurter Allgemeine daily.

German president Frank Walter Steinmeier will greet Mr Higgins with full military honours at Bellevue Palace on Monday morning.

After talks and press statements, the president will continue to the Brandenburg Gate, a Cold War frontier during Berlin’s 28-year division, to be greeted by Mr Michael Müller, the capital’s governing mayor.

After laying a wreath at the Neue Wache, a national monument to victims of war and dictatorship, Mr Higgins will visit Chancellor Angela Merkel and meet Dr Wolfgang Schäuble, president of the Bundestag. Also on the first-day programme are events for Enterprise Ireland and Bord Bia.

Thursday sees Mr Higgins deliver a keynote address at the University of Leipzig and host Mr Steinmeier and his wife at an “Other Voices” concert in Berlin.

On Friday he will travel to Würzburg, in the northern Franconia region of Bavaria, where Cillian from Cavan was martyred in 689AD.

His last stop, on Friday afternoon, is Frankfurt where a new consulate is set to open later this year.

In his FAZ oped, Mr Higgins praised Germany for its “positive European and global leadership” in particular the “sacrifices” it had made in the recent migration crisis.

He also expressed thanks for the solidarity shown to Ireland by its EU partners over Brexit. “Never has Europe been more important for Ireland,” he wrote. “We are both proudly Irish, proudly European. Side by side with our European partners, we will together manage the present and chart the future.”