Friday 28 July 2017

Higgins highlights historical links on Peru visit

President Michael D Higgins with Fr Peter Hughes as the sun sets over Lima. Photo: Maxwells
President Michael D Higgins with Fr Peter Hughes as the sun sets over Lima. Photo: Maxwells

Ryan Nugent

President Michael D Higgins chose to highlight a special historical link between Ireland and Peru in his first public address in Lima, as both nations look to expand economic ties in a post-Brexit world.

Mr Higgins is on a 10-day trip that will also take in Colombia and Cuba.

He is joined in Peru by Social Protection Minister Leo Varadkar. Mr Higgins visited the San Pedro Church in Lima yesterday, where a plaque is mounted in honour of Sligo man Ambrosio O'Higgins - one of the last viceroys of Peru under Spanish rule.

A Government strategy for Ireland's relationship with the Americas is due to be published in the coming months - Irish goods exports to Peru grew by 20pc to €38m in 2015, while Peru will be opening an embassy in Dublin in 2017.

In his keynote address - centred around Roger Casement - the President made reference to Wicklow man John Thomond O'Brien, who was one of the few to be on the platform at the Plaza de Armas when Jose San Martín declared Peruvian independence.

Mr Higgins was introduced at the Peruvian Ministry of Foreign Affairs by Irish descendant and historian Dr Scarlett O'Phelan Godoy, whose family emigrated from Waterford in the late 1700s, and said he hoped relations would become closer between the two nations.

On his first day in Peru, Mr Higgins visited the Museo Larco and was greeted at the St James Missionary in Lima by a rendition of 'Amhrán na bhFiann', while he also met Irish Columban Fathers priest Fr Peter Hughes.

Irish Independent

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