Sabina stays at home as Michael D jets off to sun
PRESIDENT Michael D Higgins has jetted off to Lanzarote for a holiday to prepare for the year ahead.
His wife Sabina is to remain at home due to commitments.
The President's holiday will not be funded by the taxpayer, and Mr Higgins paid for the holiday himself.
He is to be accompanied by his assistant, Kevin McCarthy, who is travelling to the sun island to work for the President.
The Aras says Mr Higgins will be using the week's break for "writing and for preparation for the year ahead".
The President's office said Mr McCarthy is travelling "to be of assistance to the President and to facilitate ongoing and necessary liaison with the office".
Mrs Higgins will not be travelling because she has "other commitments", the Aras said. The commitments are not connected to her work in the Aras.
It is understood the presidential party is staying in the Rubicon Palace, a four-star hotel on the island. At this time of year, prices range from €80 a night for the cheapest room to €138 per night for a junior suite.
"Kevin McCarthy, the President's executive assistant, is travelling at his own expense, to be of assistance to the President and to facilitate ongoing and necessary liaison with the office," a spokesman for Mr Higgins said.
"The only state expense being incurred relates to standard security provision.
"Sabina Higgins (is) unable to travel as she has other commitments."
The spokesman added that the President hopes to use the period to prepare for 2013, and he has already marked the coming year as one in which he will deal with major events, such as the centenary of the 1913 lockout.
He has also said his theme for 2013 will be the crisis in ethics and the crisis among intellectuals, following on from speeches he gave last year on economics, as well as on the "role of the public intellectual".
Mr McCarthy is a long-term supporter of Mr Higgins, and was a key member of the team on his presidential election campaign in 2011.
After serving as Mr Higgins's driver during the campaign, he was hired as one of a number of advisors in the Aras.
In an interview to mark his year's anniversary in office, President Higgins paid tribute to Mr McCarthy and his help during the campaign, which he said was especially demanding because of its length.
"The fact that we had an internal contest for the nomination meant that I had to take to the road early, the campaign for me was 18 months," the President said.
"It was an extraordinary experience. I wouldn't have been able to do it without Kevin McCarthy, who did 20,000 kilometres with me in his Golf."