PRESIDENT Michael D Higgins made his first public address in Mexico today at a wreath laying ceremony on the first leg of his Central American tour.
Speaking at a memorial in the city for Irish soldiers who fought on the side of the Mexicans in the American-Mexican war of 1846-1848, he said that the battalion (Battalon de San Patricio) had 'created an unbreakable link between our two countries.'
Mexican Foreign Minister Meade (whose family left Ireland in the 1880s) also spoke at the wreath laying ceremony and echoed President Higgins's remarks. He described Michael D as a 'dear friend of Mexico' and how our countries have a 'friendship that is unbreakable' because of the Irish men who fought for Mexico.
President Higgins remarked on the shared cultural vibrancy between Mexico and Ireland where we both see 'life as a joyful experience to be lived to the full.'
As the mid morning sun shone down into the Mexican square, the country's only piping band (also named the Saint Patrick's Battalion) honoured the Irish President.
The President was joined by his wife Sabina and Minister for Trade and Development Joe Costello.
President Higgins made reference to the Great Famine in his address as the Irish soldiers had fought at the same time in Irish history.
A plaque is erected in the soldiers' honour and names like Kelly, Dalton, O'Reilly and Murphy are inscribed. The President turned to face the plaque as both the Mexican and Irish anthems were played by a brass band at the ceremony.
The President touched on issues of emigration also. He attended a private breakfast with Minister Meade after the ceremony and will visit the Museum of Anthropology later this evening.
The President spoke at about 16.30 Irish time.