Bobby McDonagh: Protocol and politics intertwine for Higgins

Invitation semantics rather than church event’s intent made going controversial

President Michael D Higgins will have understood  the distinction between “marking” and “celebrating” can be deliberately muddied and would have been, by some, in this instance. Photograph: Maxwell’s

President Michael D Higgins will have understood the distinction between “marking” and “celebrating” can be deliberately muddied and would have been, by some, in this instance. Photograph: Maxwell’s

The issues of protocol surrounding whether President Michael D Higgins should have accepted the invitation to attend a religious service in Northern Ireland next month have unfortunately become a matter of intense controversy.

The only positive thing that could be said about the dispute is that it has made it possible to write a sentence containing the words “Northern Ireland” and “protocol” without any reference to Brexit.

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