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Thursday 28 August 2014

President arrives in Coventry for final leg of UK visit

Niall O'Connor In Coventry

Published 11/04/2014 | 14:56

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Queen Elizabeth and Ireland's President Michael D Higgins attend a Northern Ireland-themed reception at Windsor Castle, during the first State visit to the UK by an Irish President. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday April 10, 2014. See PA story ROYAL Ireland. Photo credit should read: Luke MacGregor/PA Wire
Queen Elizabeth and Ireland's President Michael D Higgins attend a Northern Ireland-themed reception at Windsor Castle, during the first State visit to the UK by an Irish President. Luke MacGregor/PA Wire
Britain's Queen Elizabeth holds a Northern Ireland-themed reception at Windsor Castle at Windsor in southern England April 10, 2014. The event was organised as part of Irish President Michael D Higgins' four-day state visit.   REUTERS/Luke MacGregor  (BRITAIN - Tags: POLITICS ROYALS ENTERTAINMENT)
Britain's Queen Elizabeth holds a Northern Ireland-themed reception at Windsor Castle at Windsor in southern England April 10, 2014. The event was organised as part of Irish President Michael D Higgins' four-day state visit. REUTERS/Luke MacGregor
Irish President Michael D Higgins (right) greets Northern Ireland's Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness (left) and First Minister Peter Robinson (2nd left) with Queen Elizabeth II during a Northern Ireland-themed reception at Windsor Castle, during the first State visit to the UK by an Irish President. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday April 10, 2014. See PA story ROYAL Ireland. Photo credit should read: Luke MacGregor/PA Wire
Irish President Michael D Higgins (right) greets Northern Ireland's Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness (left) and First Minister Peter Robinson (2nd left) with Queen Elizabeth II during a Northern Ireland-themed reception at Windsor Castle, during the first State visit to the UK by an Irish President. Luke MacGregor/PA Wire

PRESIDENT Michael D Higgins has arrived in Coventry for the final leg of this unprecedented State visit to the UK.

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A large crowd, which included dozens of local schoolchildren, gathered at the city's Cathedral to catch a glimpse of Mr Higgins.

 

Accompanied by wife Sabina, Mr Higgins shook hands with members of the public as he climbed the steep steps up to the Cathedral which was basked in glorious sunshine.

 

Mrs Higgins, who was dressed in a turquoise lace dress with matching silver jacket, was presented with a bouquet of flowers from a local schoolgirl.

 

The president and wife Sabina toured the new Cathedral which construction work began on just hours after the original was bombed in World War Two.

 

The President described the giant stained glass window as "extraordinary".

 

Afterwards, the couple were given a tour of the old cathedral located on the grounds. They watched on in admiration as group of school children broke out into song.

 

A large number of the crowd who attended this afternoon's event were of Irish background.

 

A function inside St Mary's Guild Hall was attended by a number of local politicians, including Coventry's Lord Mayor Cllr Gary Crookes.

 

"Cead Mile Failte," The Lord Mayor began his address.

 

"Our Irish community in Coventry has contributed to our prosperity, our pride in our city, and plays a key part in building a successful future,"he added.

 

In a short address, Mr Higgins described Coventry as a "place that enjoys great renown as a symbol of peace and reconciliation".

 

He said there is a special connection between the West of Ireland and Coventry.

 

But Mr Higgins used his final speech from the remarkable visit to pay tribute to the Irish community living in the UK.

"You, and all Irish organisations, play a vital role by providing a “home from home" for our community," he said.

 

"I thank you for your fidelity to your homeland of origin; for your solidarity to each other; and for the contribution you have made to the warm friendship that now exists between Ireland and the United Kingdom," he added.

 

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