President hails new friendship between Ireland and Britain

 The President of Ireland Michael D Higgins and his wife Sabina with Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and The Duke of Edinburgh at Windsor Castle this week, marking the first State visit to to the United Kingdom this week.

The President of Ireland Michael D Higgins and his wife Sabina with Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and The Duke of Edinburgh at Windsor Castle this week, marking the first State visit to to the United Kingdom this week.

The relationship between Ireland and Britain is “a friendly, co-operative partnership based on mutual respect, reciprocal benefit, and deep and indelible personal links”.

This was the message Uachtarán na hÉireann, Michael D Higgins, delivered to Britain’s joint Houses of Parliament in Westminster on Tuesday evening, during his official state visit to Britain.

President Higgins, who served Galway as mayor of the city, county councillor, city councillor, senator, TD, and Minister for the Arts, became the first President of Ireland to address MPs in the Palace of Westminster.

In his speech, the President discussed Irish-British relationships over the centuries, noting how “the people of Ireland greatly cherish the political independence that was secured in 1922 - an independence which was fought for by my father and many of his generation.”

Quoting the Irish MP Thomas Kettle, the President said the relationship between the two islands had been one of “looking at each other with doubtful eyes”, but that in recent years, both countries have “progressed from the doubting eyes of estrangement to the trusting eyes of partnership and, in recent years, to the welcoming eyes of friendship”.

President Higgins also paid tribute to the “Generations of Irish emigrants” to Britain, who have contributed much to the development of the country.

“As someone whose own siblings made their home here at the end of the 1950s, I am very proud of the large Irish community that is represented in every walk of life in the United Kingdom,” he said. “That community is the living heart in the evolving British-Irish relationship. I greatly cherish how the Irish in Britain have preserved and nurtured their culture and heritage while, at the same time, making a distinctive and valued contribution to the development of modern Britain.”

The President’s speech and his state visit to Britain has been described as “a landmark moment in the normalisation of relations between Dublin and London”.

Dr Liam Harte, from the University of Manchester, and a senior lecturer in Irish literature, said President Higgins’ visit “carries much positive symbolism for the many thousands of Irish people and their families who have settled in Britain since the Second World War”.

He also said it was fitting that Michael D Higgins should become the first Irish head of state to be formally welcomed at Windsor Castle and the Houses of Parliament.

“As a politician, public intellectual, scholar and poet, this ‘noble man of quiet virtue’ has spent a lifetime seeking to engage with the significant Irish communities of British cities such as London, Liverpool, Glasgow, and Manchester,” said Dr Harte.

NUI Galway’s Prof Pat Dolan was invited to join President Higgins at a London youth event, Take Charge of Change Together, part of the President’s ongoing Being Young and Irish initiative, which was also part of the state visit.

Prof Dolan holds the UNESCO chair on children, youth, and civic engagement at The Child and Family Research Centre at NUIG.

Take Charge of Change Together brings together young people from Ireland and Britain to discuss the challenges they face and to explore new ideas that promote collaboration and advance youth participation and leadership across both islands.

Prof Dolan described the youth event as “a further opportunity during this historic state visit to examine and explore the many common challenges faced by young people on these islands”.

Yesterday also saw President Higgins welcomed to London’s City Hall by the British capital’s colourful mayor Boris Johnson.The relationship between Ireland and Britain is “a friendly, co-operative partnership based on mutual respect, reciprocal benefit, and deep and indelible personal links”.

This was the message Uachtarán na hÉireann, Michael D Higgins, delivered to Britain’s joint Houses of Parliament in Westminster on Tuesday evening, during his official state visit to Britain.

President Higgins, who served Galway as mayor of the city, county councillor, city councillor, senator, TD, and Minister for the Arts, became the first President of Ireland to address MPs in the Palace of Westminster.

In his speech, the President discussed Irish-British relationships over the centuries, noting how “the people of Ireland greatly cherish the political independence that was secured in 1922 - an independence which was fought for by my father and many of his generation.”

Quoting the Irish MP Thomas Kettle, the President said the relationship between the two islands had been one of “looking at each other with doubtful eyes”, but that in recent years, both countries have “progressed from the doubting eyes of estrangement to the trusting eyes of partnership and, in recent years, to the welcoming eyes of friendship”.

President Higgins also paid tribute to the “Generations of Irish emigrants” to Britain, who have contributed much to the development of the country.

“As someone whose own siblings made their home here at the end of the 1950s, I am very proud of the large Irish community that is represented in every walk of life in the United Kingdom,” he said. “That community is the living heart in the evolving British-Irish relationship. I greatly cherish how the Irish in Britain have preserved and nurtured their culture and heritage while, at the same time, making a distinctive and valued contribution to the development of modern Britain.”

The President’s speech and his state visit to Britain has been described as “a landmark moment in the normalisation of relations between Dublin and London”.

Dr Liam Harte, from the University of Manchester, and a senior lecturer in Irish literature, said President Higgins’ visit “carries much positive symbolism for the many thousands of Irish people and their families who have settled in Britain since the Second World War”.

He also said it was fitting that Michael D Higgins should become the first Irish head of state to be formally welcomed at Windsor Castle and the Houses of Parliament.

“As a politician, public intellectual, scholar and poet, this ‘noble man of quiet virtue’ has spent a lifetime seeking to engage with the significant Irish communities of British cities such as London, Liverpool, Glasgow, and Manchester,” said Dr Harte.

NUI Galway’s Prof Pat Dolan was invited to join President Higgins at a London youth event, Take Charge of Change Together, part of the President’s ongoing Being Young and Irish initiative, which was also part of the state visit.

Prof Dolan holds the UNESCO chair on children, youth, and civic engagement at The Child and Family Research Centre at NUIG.

Take Charge of Change Together brings together young people from Ireland and Britain to discuss the challenges they face and to explore new ideas that promote collaboration and advance youth participation and leadership across both islands.

Prof Dolan described the youth event as “a further opportunity during this historic state visit to examine and explore the many common challenges faced by young people on these islands”.

Yesterday also saw President Higgins welcomed to London’s City Hall by the British capital’s colourful mayor Boris Johnson.

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