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Thursday 22 February 2018

President draws up list of Aras 'attic treasures'

President McAleese: given
gifts by heads of state
President McAleese: given gifts by heads of state

Mark Hilliard

WE all clean out our attics before moving house -- but not many of us find presents from kings, queens and presidents.

Just two weeks before the removal trucks arrive at the Aras, however, President Mary McAleese has done just that and her collection of historic mementos is now to be handed over to the State.

Staff at Aras an Uachtarain are putting the final touches to an inventory of over 60 gifts presented by visiting leaders and valued at more than €100,000.

They include a silver jug from Queen Elizabeth, presented during her historic visit to Ireland last May, with a harp engraved on one side and the British royal cypher on the other, valued at around €4,000.

Also in the collection is a stainless steel sculpture of a dove presented by US President Barack Obama.

Both items will remain in the Aras. Everything else, once the list is compiled, will be handed to the Department of the Taoiseach where a decision will be made on their future homes.

Although not obliged to do so, Mrs McAleese voluntarily signed up to the conditions of Standards in Public Office legislation, which stipulates that gifts received of a value exceeding €650 should be given over to state custody.

In accordance with those regulations, gifts received from foreign dignitaries are to be passed over.

Other presents currently being catalogued and put into storage include a perfume globe from the king of Bahrain worth €1,500 and a candelabra from the president of Israel to mark the 60th anniversary of the formation of the Middle Eastern state.

There is also a gift from former Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and a facsimile of the Book of Kells valued at €11,000.

Irish Independent

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