Michael D to be sworn in as Ireland’s ninth president tomorrow
Published 10/11/2011 | 19:03
IRELAND’S ninth president, Michael D Higgins, will be inaugurated at a special ceremony in Dublin Castle tomorrow.
The veteran politician, poet and campaigner will take up his seven-year role as head of state after a formal swearing-in in front of Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Chief Justice Susan Denham.
He takes over from President Mary McAleese, who spent an emotional final day today visiting homeless men in Dublin after a remarkable 14-year term.
Mr Higgins is expected at the State apartments in the castle before midday for a service of prayer attended by members of all major religions to mark the start of the ceremony.
As well as the blessing there will be a moment of reflection to mark the humanist philosophy and secular aspects of Irish life.
During his election campaign, Mr Higgins, 70, spoke about the need to be more inclusive and also suggested the Presidential Oath of Office could be modernised to support that idea.
Before the ceremony proper begins, Mr Higgins will stop briefly in the Connolly room of Dublin Castle, named in honour of the 1916 rebel leader James Connolly, for his own private moment of reflection.
The inauguration will see the Taoiseach request the Chief Justice read the Declaration of Office to Mr Higgins, followed by a formal signing in St Patrick's Hall.
After the ceremony is complete, the Presidential Standard, blue with a gold harp, will be hoisted above Dublin Castle and the Defence Forces will fire a 21-gun salute from the grounds of Collins Barracks a mile away.
The new President will inspect a Defence Forces' Guard of Honour made up of 107 officers in the courtyard of the castle. The troops will be led by Officer in Charge Captain Emmett Harney and Flag Officer Lieutenant Deirdre Carbery, whose father Colonel Declan Carbery served for a period as Aide de Camp to outgoing President McAleese.
The ceremony lasts about one hour and ends with President Higgins and his wife Sabina meeting children and invited guests from all sides of Irish society in the castle grounds.
Two bands of the Defence Forces will play, one inside the castle and the other outside, and a ceremonial march-past will take place at the same time as a fly-past involving four Air Corps aircraft.
The President will then be escorted to the Aras by motorcycle outriders.
Mr Higgins follows President McAleese, widely praised and heralded for her 14-year, two term in office and her theme of building bridges with communities across the Republic and Northern Ireland.
In his election speech, the former Labour Party politician vowed to lead the country in a necessary change in thinking in society and away from values based on wealth.
Mr Higgins, who secured more than one million votes, said his seven-year term will be defined by efforts to turn inclusion into reality.