Friday 27 April 2018

Higgins welcomes 'honest' debate on 1916 centenary

President Michael D Higgins - alongside vice-president of Malawi, Rt Hon Saulos Klaus Chilima - gets a tradition welcome after arriving at Kazumu International Airport yesterday. Photo Chris Bellew.
President Michael D Higgins - alongside vice-president of Malawi, Rt Hon Saulos Klaus Chilima - gets a tradition welcome after arriving at Kazumu International Airport yesterday. Photo Chris Bellew.
Joyce Fegan

Joyce Fegan

PRESIDENT Michael D Higgins has welcomed the debate about how we will commemorate our struggle for independence.

Speaking from Malawi, a country that this year marks 50 years of independence from Britain, he said people were discussing the commemoration with "honesty".

"In Ireland we have entered a decade of commemorations, of a series of seminal events which led to our independence in 1922 and we've had to think about how we can, in a fair and comprehensive way, deal with memory and the past.

"To do so in a way that can win the confidence of all but also to express an invitation to future generations is a huge challenge but it is one we are doing with honesty, both ethical and historical," Mr Higgins said at a state dinner in Malawi last night.

He is in Africa on an official state visit, which has already brought him to Ethiopia and he will travel to South Africa on Thursday.

He landed in Malawi yesterday to a colourful welcome of traditional dance, music, full military honours and the Irish National Anthem on the runway at Kazumu International Airport in Lilongwe.

"Our countries share more than just an ability to indicate warm welcomes to each other.

"Of course in the last century both of our countries struggled for independence, had to struggle for independence too, because in Ireland we will soon celebrate the 100th anniversary, the moment of our independence," Mr Higgins said.

He was addressing the common theme between Ireland and the sub-Saharan country of 12 million people - that of achieving independence from Britain.

The President will also visit Irish Aid-funded nutritional and agricultural projects.

Irish Independent

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