Aide leaves Aras and returns to old department
The most senior member of the presidential staff is leaving his post to return to the Department of Foreign Affairs.
Adrian O'Neill, the secretary general to the President, announced he was leaving the staff after four years in the position. He was appointed in February 2010, during former President Mary McAleese's term in office.
Mr O'Neill said an opportunity arose "to take on other areas of responsibility in the Anglo-Irish Division of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade".
"It has been an honour to serve in Aras an Uachtarain and to support the important work of President Higgins and former President McAleese," he said.
"I wish President Higgins and Sabina continuing success for the remainder of the term of office."
Mr O'Neill is the second member of staff to leave Aras an Uachtarain in the past six months. The former president's special adviser, Mary van Lieshout, quit last October half way through her three-year contract.
Following speculation on her departure, Ms Van Lieshout said she left on "amicable terms".
Some media reports at the time had suggested she had experienced difficulty in getting access to the President. These allegations were denied by the Aras.
Mr O'Neill's successor is expected to be appointed in the coming weeks.
Mr Higgins congratulated Mr O'Neill on his new role.
"I thank Adrian for his valuable contributions and commitment to the office over recent years and, in particular, for his role in the recent state visit to the UK."