Ross apology for mocking Higgins' official visit to UK

Fionnan Sheahan and Conor Feehan

INDEPENDENT TD Shane Ross has apologised to President Michael D Higgins for his "Christopher Robin" comment about the first official Presidential visit to Britain.

President Higgins will become the first President to visit Queen Elizabeth, following her trip to Ireland two years ago. He will stay at Windsor Castle from April 8 to 10.

But after the trip was announced, Mr Ross tweeted several controversial comments. "So Michael D is off to see the Queen, just like Christopher Robin,"he wrote. "He will do us proud staying in Windsor Castle. "What would Dev think?"


He followed it up with: "Bet Michael D follows visit to Queen by (summoning) Dail for state of nation speech. Mary Robinson did. Hope he won't read us his poetry."

However, the Dublin South TD then posted a third message reading: "That was disrespectful to both Queen and President. Apologies to Aras an Uachtarain. He is a great President. I love him dearly."

Mr Ross did not respond to queries from the Herald at the time of going to print.

The Queen will host a state banquet for the President, where both heads of State will make speeches.

Mr Higgins will also hold a meeting with British Prime Minister David Cameron, and will meet opposition leaders and the Lord Mayor of London.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny welcomed the move. "This is a further demonstration of the warm and positive relationship that now exists between Ireland and the United Kingdom," he said.

President Higgins has met members of the royal family on a number of occasions, including the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh at Belfast's Lyric Theatre last year, and Princess Anne at the Ireland versus Scotland rugby match last year.


He also hosted the monarch's first cousin, the Duke of Kent, this year at Aras an Uachtarain.

The President has already made five trips to Britain, visiting London, Manchester, Liverpool and the Iona in Scotland.

However, none of these were official trips. Neither were the numerous visits undertaken by former Presidents Mary McAleese and Mary Robinson.

In a statement last night, the Aras said: "President Michael D Higgins is very pleased to accept an invitation from Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

"The President will be accompanied on the State visit by Mrs Sabina Higgins and the details of the programme will in due course be announced."

The programme for is expected to reflect the political, economic and cultural relations between Ireland and Britain, with a particular focus on Northern Ireland. A concert will also probably be held.