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President to attend state funeral

PRESIDENT Michael D Higgins will lead the Irish representation when Nelson Mandela is laid to rest in his ancestral village of Qunu in the Eastern Cape on December 15.

The former South African president, who died on Thursday evening, will be laid to rest at his rural homeland in Qunu following a week of mourning.

Tributes from around the world have poured in for the man known as Madiba while at home flags were flown at half-mast and books of condolences opened around the country, including one in Dublin's Mansion House.

Aras an Uachtarain last night confirmed that the President, along with other heads of state, will attend the state memorial service in the FNB Stadium, Johannesburg on Tuesday.

It is not expected that Taoiseach Enda Kenny will attend the service, but there is a possibility that Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore will be there on behalf of the Government.

PRAYER

The Taoiseach said Mr Mandela had been a source of strength for people round the world.

"Nelson Mandela, during his life as man and a citizen, used all his talents to the full.

"As a leader of people he chose the road of forgiveness instead of revenge and has been an inspiration for hundreds of millions of people all around the world," he said.

Mr Mandela's body will lie in state at government buildings in Pretoria from Wednesday until the burial while tomorrow will be a national day of prayer and reflection across the African state.

South Africans have already flocked in their numbers to the Johannesburg home of Mr Madela where they will be joined over the coming days by people from all over the world.

In anticipation for the massive crowds expected at the funeral, portable toilets have been delivered while people have already set up stalls selling flags and paraphernalia of Mr Mandela's political party, the African National Congress.

hnews@herald.ie


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