Sun holidays recalled as Michael D hosts first visitors to Aras
IT was easy to imagine Michael D Higgins as our First Citizen in Aras an Uachtarain.
It's slightly harder to imagine President Michael D, the one time leftwing firebrand, on a sun holiday in the package resort of Fuerteventura in the Canaries.
After all, there weren't many rebel causes to champion on those beaches -- unless it was against the outrageous prices for an afternoon's parasol hire.
Michael D was reminded of holidays during his first official engagement in the Aras yesterday when he welcomed representatives of Diabetes Ireland (DI) on World Diabetes Day.
One of them, Donal Gilroy from Sligo, said: "My mother used to meet him at Mass in Fuerteventura when they were on holidays. He said he won't be able to go on such private holidays any more."
The President personally chose Diabetes Ireland as his first group to welcome to the Aras
"Ladies and gentlemen, will you please welcome the President and Sabina Higgins," announced Sergeant John Grennan from the aide-de-camp's office just after 11am as the First Couple entered the State Reception Room.
It seems that Sabina Coyne, as she was mostly known, is now officially Sabina Higgins. But she seems certain to be greeted by her first name, as she was when she worked the room yesterday.
"This is a very important day, given that this is my first group that I have welcomed here," Michael D told the gathering.
He said he was "so glad that so many of you have come" and paid tribute to how they gave with their "time and indeed their care".
There were a few moments for chat and to pose for pictures. Coffee, tea and scones were served. The President had a cup of hot water, although he is usually a coffee drinker.
"Please join us in bidding a fond farewell to the President and Sabina Higgins," Sgt Grennan said as they took their leave.
Tonight Mr Higgins heads for Lansdowne Road to cheer on Ireland in the second leg of the play-off against Estonia. He will be well placed to give the Irish a warning about letting a big lead slip.