President meets with Irish nurses and doctors
PRESIDENT Michael D. Higgins and his wife Sabina have been meeting with Irish nurses and doctors employed by the National Health Service (NHS) on Day Two on their State visit to the UK.
Mr and Mrs Higgins were given a tour of the University College Hospital today before the pair attended separate engagements for the first time on the historical trip.
The couple visited the 38-bed elderly medicine unit where they were shown around by matron Josie Gladney, originally from St Mullins, County Carlow, and ward sister Sharon Lynagh, from Athboy, County Meath.
After visiting the elderly medicine unit, Mr and Mrs Higgins toured the Hyper Acute Stroke Unit (HASU), one of the eight London hyper acute stroke ‘hubs’ that provide 24/7 care for all patients presenting with new stroke.
Mrs Higgins later visited the Royal Academy where she was given a tour of the centre's workshops that have played host to actors such as Richard Attenborough and Peter O'Toole.
Mrs Higgins has arrived at the Royal Academy for a tour of their dramatic arts workshops that have seen actors like pass through their doors.
Wearing a royal blue dress by Charactere, she was met at the event by her three children Alice, Mary and John.
Afterwards, Mrs Higgins travelled to the Irish embassy where she was due to meet a number of Irish fashion designers.
Meanwhile, President Higgins told members of the Royal Society in London that his State Visit "is a celebration of the relationship between our two countries, in all of its rich dimensions".
Mr Higgins was addressing an event held jointly by the Royal Society and the Science Foundation of Ireland on the second day of his visit to the UK.
In his speech he welcomed the discussions between the two science societies to develop a joint research programme. "This partnership will, I believe, strengthen the beneficial role which scientific cooperation can play in expanding Britain and Ireland's horizon of possibilities," he said.
The president had been greeted at the entrance by Britain's minister for universities and science, Mr David Willets and Professor John Pethica, vice-president of the Society.
Before making his address, he was shown items of Irish interest, including a 'wish-list' of inventions written by 17th century Waterford-born chemist, physicist and inventor, Robert Boyle.
Mr Higgins also paid tribute to other Irish scientists, such as William Parsons who built the world's biggest telescope and John Lighton Synge who pioneered the study of black holes.
Mr Higgins was in relaxed form the day after his historic meeting with the queen, and joked to the audience of boffins that "As a non-practising sociologist I was always very critical of Francis Bacon - I have decided immediately to leave it for another day".
There was also laughter when he pointed out that James Joyce gave the word 'quark' its spelling when he used it in 'Finnegans Wake'. "This may have been an unintentional contribution to the development of particle physics," he added.
After his address he was given a tour of the building and was shown the signature of his Presidential predecessor, keen mathematician Eamon de Valera when he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society, before departing for lunch at 10 Downing Street with prime minister David Cameron.
Mrs Higgins has separate engagements today, including a visit to RADA and a fashion lunch at the Irish Embassy with designers including Louise Kennedy, Orla Kiely and Philip Treacy.