IRISH President Michael D Higgins and his wife Sabina have been asked by Armagh SDLP group leader Thomas O’Hanlon to visit the city, and the couple have indicated they would be “delighted” to accept.
The invitation was issued by the councillor (pictured with President Higgins) during a celebratory St Patrick’s Day reception in Áras an Uachtaráin.
Middletown SDLP Councillor Gerald Mallon and South Down MP Margaret Ritchie were also present, along with other representatives of church, community and political life across Ireland.
Speaking after the event, Councillor O’Hanlon said: “President Higgins is a remarkable man, he gave a truly inspirational address this evening on Saint Patrick and his legacy to all the people of this island and beyond. He spoke of the importance of peace and reconciliation on this island and, indeed, the celebration of our Irish culture and its links to the Scots-Irish as well.
“President Higgins is known the world over for his love of literature, so I presented the President and his wife Sabina with a book on the history of Armagh, a gift he said he looked forward to reading on an evening in his study in Áras an Uachtaráin.
“His predecessor Mary McAleese was a frequent visitor to Armagh and I asked President Higgins if he would do us the honour of visiting Armagh in the very near future, and he said it was an invitation he would be delighted to accept.
“President Higgins is an inspirational man; he spoke with such enthusiasm and authority on Patrick and his legacy to all the peoples of this island.
“What struck me most was his desire for all communities to come together to celebrate Patrick as a man of peace, of Christianity and a man of leadership. I look forward to seeing President Higgins in Armagh in the very near future.”