‘Government consulted president on centenary invitation but decision was his'

The Irish Government consulted the president on an invitation to attend a Northern Ireland centenary event but the decision to decline it was his own, a minister has insisted.

Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney said his department did not offer Michael D Higgins any clear advice on whether he should or should not go to the church service in Armagh next month.

Mr Higgins has defended his decision to turn down the invitation to the event, which is expected to be attended by the Queen.

The president said the title of the service, which states that the event will mark the centenaries of the partition of Ireland and the formation of Northern Ireland, has been “politicised” and, as such, it would be inappropriate for him to attend.

Irish President Michael D Higgins said it would be inappropriate for him to attend the event (Damien Eagers/PA)

Mr Higgins, who is currently on a visit to Rome, said he will not be changing his decision to stay away.

Unionists have criticised his non-attendance, with DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson questioning whether it was politically motivated as a consequence of advice from the Irish Government.

Mr Coveney was asked about the controversy during a visit to Belfast.

“There was consultation between the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Aras (president’s official residence) on this issue and many other issues, but I can assure you President Higgins is the kind of person who makes his own decisions,” he said.

“He listens to all perspectives and then makes a judgment for himself.

“And, you know, he’s made his decision on this. He’s given an explanation as to the basis for that decision and I think we need to respect that.”

The minister said he is “not going to second-guess the decisions of the president of Ireland”.

“He makes his own decisions and he makes his own judgment calls, and I respect that.”

Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney said his department did not give President Michael D Higgins any clear advice about the invitation (Brian Lawless/PA)

Mr Coveney added: “My department would be involved with consultations with Aras An Uachtarain and the president’s team regularly on a lot of things; we didn’t give any clear advice to the president in relation to this particular event.

“I think it’s quite clear from the statements that the president has made in relation to it that he made his own decision. He is the head of state, he’s entitled to make his own decisions on his own diary and the events that he attends, and I think he’s answered for himself on that.”

Asked if he would attend the service himself if invited, Mr Coveney said: “The Irish Government hasn’t received an invitation to the event that you refer to, but, if we do receive an invitation, of course we’ll give it serious consideration.”

Mr Higgins said he will not be reconsidering his decision.

“We are past the point now and I think it is unfortunate,” he told the Irish Times.

The president denied he is snubbing the Queen.

“There is no question of any snub intended to anybody,” he said. “I am not snubbing anyone and I am not part of anyone’s boycott of any other events in Northern Ireland.

“I wish their service well but they understand that I have the right to exercise a discretion as to what I think is appropriate for my attendance.”

Mr Higgins said his issue is with the title of the service.

“What (had started out as) an invitation to a religious service had in fact become a political statement,” he said. “I was also referred to as the president of the Republic of Ireland. I am the president of Ireland.”

Mr Higgins also challenged the DUP criticism.

“It’s a bit much, to be frank with you. I have gone up to Northern Ireland to take part in events,” he said.

“There often has not been a great deal of traffic down from the DUP people who are criticising me now.”

Mr Higgins, who was due to meet the Pope on Friday, said that, on the day of the service, he has already agreed to host the Statistical and Social Inquiry Association of Ireland at his official residence at Aras an Uachtarain in Dublin.

Reacting to Mr Higgins’ latest comments, Sir Jeffrey accused him of “retrograde” steps.

“The president has made his position clear, but I have to say I’m very surprised – I really thought that the president would have risen above the politics of all of this,” the DUP leader told BBC Radio Ulster.

“He uses language that I think is, unfortunately, retrograde. He talks about being the president of Ireland, not the president of the Republic of Ireland, despite the fact that people voted to remove the territorial claim over Northern Ireland and that there was recognition in the constitution of the Republic of Ireland of the existence of Northern Ireland as part of the United Kingdom.

“I think the language used by the president is not forward-looking and doesn’t recognise the reality that Northern Ireland is part of the United Kingdom. It’s back to the old days when the president believes that he is president of the whole island, which we all know he is not.

“I have to say that the comments made by President Higgins really are not conducive towards reconciliation.”

Internet Explorer Channel Network
News Related

OTHER NEWS

"Genuinely got a chance of making it at Chelsea" - Journalist drops big claim on CFC youngster

Conor Gallagher could break into Thomas Tuchel’s Chelsea plans if he continues to impress at Crystal Palace, according to the Sun journalist Tom Barclay. © GiveMeSport Chelsea head coach Thomas ... Read more »

TCU vs. West Virginia College Football Odds, Plays and Insights

Check out odds, insights and more in our betting preview for the TCU Horned Frogs vs. West Virginia Mountaineers college football matchup on October 23, 2021. © Provided by Sports ... Read more »

Manchester United make Zinedine Zidane 'contact' and more transfer rumours

Manchester United called former Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane during the recent international break to learn his availability upon the recommendation given to them by Cristiano Ronaldo. That is according ... Read more »

Two Scottish Premiership managers receive misconduct charges from the SFA

Hearts manager Robbie Neilson and Dundee boss James McPake have both received misconduct charges from the Scottish Football Association. © Robbie Neilson, right, with Dundee manager James McPake during a ... Read more »

‘We are cursed', ‘Massive blow' – These Stoke City fans react to player setback in Bournemouth game

© Provided by Football League World NickPowell Stoke City forward Nick Powell was forced off in the first-half of tonight’s game against Bournemouth through injury. The 27-year-old has been outstanding ... Read more »

Soccer-Atalanta coach Gasperini braced for Manchester United backlash

(Reuters) – Atalanta coach Gian Piero Gasperini said on Tuesday that Manchester United are not in crisis and will be ready to produce a reaction to their poor recent form ... Read more »

Man who ate Chipotle in all 50 states ‘never got tired of it'

Wyatt Moss who went viral for eating Chipotle in all 50 states says he “never got tired of it.” mosswyatt Tiktok Wyatt Moss really loves Chipotle. Moss, 19, from near ... Read more »

Lionel Messi gets cheeky Paris Saint Germain swap offer as young fan tries to trade his MUM

A young Paris Saint-Germain supporter made Lionel Messi a bold offer on Tuesday night. Indeed, the kid was so keen to get his hands on the Argentine icon’s shirt he ... Read more »

Joao Cancelo hails 'special' Cole Palmer and Phil Foden but names another huge Man City talent on the way

Manchester City star Joao Cancelo has warned the Premier League that the Blues have more stunning young players in the pipeline after seeing Cole Palmer bag his first Champions League ... Read more »

The story of Celtic's 2-0 win over Ferencvaros: Crowd eruption, time travel, vaccine passports, and showing European credentials

The eruption around Celtic Park when Ange Postecoglou’s men snatched an 81st-minute goal that secured them a 2-0 victory to seal a first Europa League group success of this campaign ... Read more »

Cong, Sena protest rising fuel prices in Pune

© Provided by Hindustan Times The Congress and Shiv Sena on Tuesday held a protest in Pune against the hike in fuel prices and blamed the government for allowing “affordable ... Read more »

Nail your Halloween costume with 25% off Glamnetic lashes, nails and more

NYPost Composite There’s nothing spookier than not having your Halloween costume ready to go. Let Glamnetic help put the finishing touches on your look, offering 25% off on select spooky ... Read more »

Bar Metro, SPVs in Pune fail to deliver on proposed civic plans

© Provided by Hindustan Times Despite mounting criticism of the existing special purpose vehicles (SPVs) that they are not serving the purpose for which they were formed, except Metro, one ... Read more »

Agnihotri hits back at Jai Ram over ‘helpless candidate' remark against Pratibha

© Provided by Hindustan Times Leader of Opposition Mukesh Agnihotri. (HT File) Leader of Opposition Mukesh Agnihotri on Tuesday hit back at Himachal Pradesh chief minister Jai Ram Thakur over ... Read more »

DHS Secretary Mayorkas tests positive for COVID-19

WASHINGTON – Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, who is fully vaccinated, tested positive for COVID-19 Tuesday morning, the department said. DHS spokesperson Marsha Espinosa said in a statement that Mayorkas ... Read more »

Plane dumps human poo over man in his garden in Windsor ‘splattering whole garden, umbrellas and him'

A MAN was splattered with human excrement when a passing plane dumped its toilet over his garden, a council meeting heard. Councillor Karen Davies was “horrified” to hear of the ... Read more »

All Sierra Perdida FND Base locations in Far Cry 6

FND Bases in Far Cry 6 are exactly like Outposts from the previous games. The key to taking them down is to kill every enemy in the base. Of course, ... Read more »

How much money does Amouranth make on Twitch?

Amouranth is perhaps one of the most controversial content creators on Twitch, known for being a large part of the “hot tub meta.” © Provided by Dot Esports Her edgy ... Read more »

Red Dead Online's Bounty Hunter week will provide several cash and XP bonuses

Over the next week, Red Dead Online will provide several bonuses for Bounty Hunters, including an extra 50% RDO$ and Role XP boost for any Bounties they bring in, dead ... Read more »

Texans release longtime DE Whitney Mercilus

In February, the Houston Texans stunned the NFL world when they released franchise icon J.J. Watt. This week, the Texans pulled off another surprising move, as they have chosen to ... Read more »

Netflix 3Q subscriber growth picks up more than expected, riding Squid Game's phenom

© Provided by CNET Angela Lang/CNET Netflix added 4.28 million subscribers in the last quarter, riding an unexpected wave of global interest thanks to its breakout hit Squid Game. “Netflix … ... Read more »

Mitch McConnell deflected a question about Trump's influence on the GOP, saying Republicans should focus on the future and not 'rehash' 2020

© Scott Olson/Getty Images (L), Drew Angerer/Getty Images (R) Former President Donald Trump (L), Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R). Scott Olson/Getty Images (L), Drew Angerer/Getty Images (R) McConnell deflected ... Read more »

How AirPods became Apple's hottest product

Almost immediately after Apple unveiled its new AirPods product in 2016, the memes began. There were photoshopped pictures of electric toothbrushes dangling from ears and jokes about the wireless earbuds ... Read more »

Coroner determines 71-year-old Kentucky woman's cause of death. Man charged.

An autopsy has determined that a 71-year-old Trigg County woman — who was allegedly killed by a relative in her home last Thursday— died from blunt-force trauma, authorities said. Harold ... Read more »

White House and Democrats nearing deal on reconciliation package - sources

U.S. Senate Democrats hold weekly policy lunch at U.S. Capitol in Washington WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The White House and Democratic lawmakers are nearing deal on a framework for a major ... Read more »

US high court won't stop vaccines for Maine health workers

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — The U.S. Supreme Court declined Tuesday to hear an emergency appeal of a vaccine requirement imposed on Maine health care workers, the latest defeat for opponents ... Read more »

Germany: Three probed over deadly Leverkusen chemical blast

© Provided by dw.com The explosion sparked fears that toxins were released into the surrounding area Prosecutors in Cologne, Germany on Tuesday announced that three people were being investigated in ... Read more »

Choice of savings deals reaches the highest level since the pandemic - but potential base rate rise unlikely to make 'meaningful difference' to best buys

© Provided by This Is Money MailOnline logo The number of savings accounts available has reached the highest level since the start of the pandemic. Accounts on offer rose for ... Read more »

With dueling downgrades, NATO-Russia diplomacy is at a new low

© Provided by dw.com Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov (left) and NATO Secretary General pledged in 2015 to keep lines of communication open despite tensions over Moscow‘s illegal annexation of ... Read more »

Lewis Hamilton "incredibly proud" of F1 rival Sebastian Vettel and hints at future partnership

Lewis Hamilton is very “proud” of his relationship with fellow racer Sebastien Vettel. The defending F1 world champion is pleased with the German for his efforts to campaign for social ... Read more »

Sahpra doubtful of covid home testing kits, despite growing availability abroad

Some scientists argue it will reduce transmission, but the South African regulator is concerned about the potential for the misinterpretation and misunderstanding of results © Copyright (c) Daily Maverick , ... Read more »

Turkey asks Norway's ambassador for explanation of statement on regime critic Osman Kavala

Turkey is asking ambassadors from Norway and other countries to explain themselves after demanding that the imprisoned regime critic Osman Kavala be released. Several embassies in Turkey, including the Norwegian ... Read more »

Senators call on Facebook to shelve Novi cryptocurrency project

© Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge Senate Democrats called on Facebook to end its digital wallet and cryptocurrency project in a letter to chief executive Mark Zuckerberg Tuesday, ... Read more »

Your Evening Longread: Could a change in your morning routine change your life?

© Shutterstock wavebreakmedia EVERY WEEK, WE bring you a round-up of the best longreads of the past seven days in Sitdown Sunday. And now, every weeknight, we bring you an ... Read more »

Third person charged with murder of 13-year-old Alabama boy struck by bullet while playing on iPad

© ASSOCIATED PRESS James Deanthony Reed was arrested and charged previously – ASSOCIATED PRESS Police have charged a third person with capital murder in the killing of a 13-year-old boy ... Read more »

World Cup qualification would be 'transformative' for Irish women's football

© James Crombie INPHO The Ireland team pictured before last month’s victory against Australia at Tallaght Stadium. FOR THE IRELAND women’s national team, another bid to reach a major tournament ... Read more »

Haitian gang demands $1m each for kidnapped US missionaries

© Provided by Al Jazeera Haitians protested against rising violence, fuel and food shortages at the home of acting Prime Minister Ariel Henry Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on October 19 [Matias Delacroix/AP ... Read more »

No jab, no job? Thousands of American workers could get pink slip

© Provided by Al Jazeera A Boeing employee holds a sign advocating personal choice at a protest outside the Boeing facility in Everett, Washington, US, after the planemaker’s requirement that ... Read more »

Manchester City fertigt Brügge ab – was zeigen Real, Dortmund und PSG?

Der englische Meister lässt Brügge keine Chance und siegt im Vorabendspiel deutlich. Die restlichen Partien gibt es hier in der Live-Übersicht. © Foto: Kurt Desplenter (Getty Images/AFP) Kyle Walker (Mitte) ... Read more »

Psaki jokes about secret migrant kids' flights: ‘Earlier than you might like'

The White House tried to make light Tuesday of The Post’s exposing the secret, nighttime flights that President Biden’s administration is using to ferry unaccompanied migrant kids from the Texas ... Read more »