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President Higgins makes official US visit

PRESIDENT Michael D Higgins arrives in New York later today for his first official trip to the US.

The six-day visit includes a meeting with UN secretary-general Ban Ki Moon and Famine commemoration events in Boston. He will also pay his respects at the 9/11 Memorial.

Mr Higgins will travel with his wife, Sabina, and will be joined in Boston by Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Jimmy Deenihan.

The trip will see the President address business audiences in both New York and Boston where he will call on the Irish and Irish-American community to become involved in remaking Ireland's economy and society.

He is expected to highlight the potential of culture and innovation to improve the economy and enhance Ireland's reputation abroad.

Ireland's Ambassador to the US, Michael Collins, and Noel Kilkenny, consul general of Ireland to New York, will first meet the President and his wife today before an address to more than 300 members of the Irish Community at Ireland House on Park Avenue.

Tomorrow, Mr Higgins will attend a business breakfast with young Irish professionals on Wall Street before visiting the 9/11 Memorial and the Irish Hunger Memorial at Battery Park.

There will also be a meeting with Mayor Michael Bloomberg at City Hall.

The trip continues on Wednesday with a visit to the Emerald Isle Immigration Centre in the Bronx and later the Aisling Irish Community Centre in Yonkers before the President attends the UN headquarters on Thursday. That evening he will be guest of honour at the American Ireland Fund Gala Dinner and address more than 1400 guests.

The trip rounds off on Friday and Saturday in Boston with a business lunch hosted by the IDA, Enterprise Ireland, Tourism Ireland and Bord Bia and a meeting with Mayor Thomas Menino.

President Higgins will also lead the representation at the 2012 National Famine Commemoration abroad where he will deliver a lecture, Reflecting On An Gorta Mor: The Great Famine Of Ireland - Some Narratives, Their Lessons And Their Legacy, before laying a wreath at the Famine Memorial in Boston.