Michael D Higgins pledges to be president for all people of Ireland

Michael D Higgins has pledged to be a president for all the Irish people as he was sworn in to lead the nation for a second term.

The 77-year-old poet, professor and campaigner took the presidential pledge during an evening ceremony at Dublin Castle on Sunday night.

Michael D Higgins and his wife Sabina
Michael D Higgins and his wife Sabina

Irish Premier Leo Varadkar and former presidents Mary McAleese and Mary Robinson were among the guests.

Some of the most senior officials in the state were also in attendance including the Garda Commissioner Drew Harris, EU Commissioner Phil Hogan and Tanaiste Simon Coveney.

Schoolchildren were also among the guests invited to the inauguration.

Former president Mary Robinson and her husband Nick Robinson
Former president Mary Robinson and her husband Nick Robinson

All five of the candidates who ran against Mr Higgins in last month’s election – Gavin Duffy, Sean Gallagher, Joan Freeman, Liadh Ni Riada and Peter Casey – were also in attendance.

Just hours before his inauguration, Mr Higgins attended an event marking the centenary of Armistice Day.

Mr Varadkar paid tribute to Mr Higgins for moving the time of his inauguration so he could attend the armistice event.

Michael D Higgins
Michael D Higgins

“By requesting this change, President Higgins exhibited the values which he has brought to the office over the past seven years: respect, empathy, understanding, and a selfless desire to put the country first,” he said.

“As we approach the commemoration of the first Dail, the War of Independence, the Anglo-Irish Treaty, and the Civil War, we are fortunate to have someone with the values, sensitivities, and understanding of President Higgins.”

An interfaith service preceded the inauguration ceremony, with Christian, Jewish and Islamic religious representatives taking part.

With the United Kingdom’s imminent departure from the European Union causing political turbulence, Mr Higgins pledged to work to maintain the friendship between the two countries.

“One of our deepest and most complex relationships is that with our closest neighbour. When I visited the United Kingdom in 2014, I spoke of our nations as ‘ar scath a cheile’ – living in each other’s shadow and shelter,” he said.

“Muintir na hÉireann, I thank you again from my heart. This is your presidency and I will work for you and with you towards a future of equality, participation, inclusion, imagination, creativity, and sustainability.“ Michael D Higgins #APresidentForUsAllpic.twitter.com/bwM0G4Ld1B

— Michael D Higgins (@MichaelDHiggins) November 11, 2018

“This is something which will remain true, whatever political changes the near future might bring, and the presidency can continue to play a crucial role in sustaining positive relationships between our peoples in challenging circumstances.”

Mr Higgins added: “I will, I have emphasised, be a president for all of the Irish people, wherever they may be and in whatever circumstances, those who supported me and those who were not among that number.”

Concluding his speech, Mr Higgins said: “Muintir na hEireann (People of Ireland), I thank you again from my heart.

“This is your presidency and I will work for you and with you towards a future of equality, participation, inclusion, imagination, creativity and sustainability.

“It is together that we go forward.”

At the end of the ceremony Mr Higgins carried out an inspection of his Guard of Honour in the courtyard of Dublin Castle.

Michael D Higgins was elected on October 26, with 822,566 votes – 56% of the vote – the biggest personal mandate in Irish history.