PRESIDENT Michael D Higgins has departed for Rome this morning after a late-night dash back to Ireland on the Government jet to sign emergency legislation.
He departed Dublin at 9.30am and is due to land in Rome at 12.30pm in order to continue his official visit.
After signing the Irish Bank Resolution Corporation Bill, Mr Higgins is expected to be back in Italy in time for a meeting with Italian President Giorgio Napolitano which is the key event on his three-day visit.
His late afternoon meeting will be followed by a reception at the ornate Quirinale Palace in Rome.
Minister for Arts Heritage and the Gaeltacht Jimmy Deenihan will also arrive in Rome in order to attend an Irish Business Networking event, organised by State agencies including Bord Bia, as it was uncertain if the President would make it back in time to attend.
The President's meeting at the Irish College seminary with the new rector Monsignor Ciaran O'Carroll was called off, with hopes of rescheduling it for Friday.
The President is on a three-day visit to Rome on foot of an invite from Italian President Georgio Napolitano.