Wednesday 21 March 2018

President Michael D Higgins receives highest honour of 'Gran Collar' from president of Peru

President Michael D Higgins Photo: PA News
President Michael D Higgins Photo: PA News

Ryan Nugent

President Michael D Higgins was given the red carpet treatment at Peru's Presidential Palace, as he was awarded the country's top honour - the 'Gran Collar' of the Order of the Sun.

In searing temperatures in old town Lima, the uniformed Presidential Guard stood in unison to perform renditions of Amhrán na bhFiann and the Peruvian national anthem, as both nations looked to build a new political relationship.

The president was presented with the award for his promotion of peace, human rights and democracy, while also taking into account the friendship of the two States.

Within the Palace, President Higgins was brought to the bust of liberator Bernardo O'Higgins by Peruvian President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski. The bust of Sligo descendant O'Higgins was located mere yards from José de San Martin - founder of the freedom of Peru, indicating the esteem he was held in.

In return for the impressive welcome, the multilingual president was also capable of delivering his speech in three languages - Spanish, Irish and English. He thanked the Peruvians for their warm welcome and hailed a new friendship between both countries.

"It is with the greatest pleasure that Peru is to open an embassy in Ireland. The embassy in Dublin provides us with an opportunity for holding meetings," President Higgins said. "There are so many areas of cooperation that could be of benefit to Ireland and Peru."

The speech followed some more serious business as UCC President Michael Murphy signed a scholarship agreement with the Peruvian Ministry of Education, and Social Protection Minister Leo Varadkar signed a Memorandum of Understanding on political consultations between both countries.

New Peruvian Ambassador to Ireland, Claudio Julio De La Puente, told the Irish Independent Ireland is looking at other trade avenues in Latin America.

"I think Brexit means there is a need for Ireland to look in other directions, in Latin America and the visit of President Higgins is a clear sign of a deepening interest," he said. "We can work together to promote new avenues of trade."

Irish Independent

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