Irish President Michael D Higgins Defends Decision Not To Attend Northern Ireland Centenary Church Service | World news

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The Irish president defended his decision to decline an invitation to a religious service to mark the centenary of Northern Ireland, which the Queen will attend.

Michael D Higgins will not be attending the event as he has said his title is “politicized” and it would be inappropriate for him to attend.

The title of the event indicates that the service will mark the centenary of the score of Ireland and the formation of North Ireland.

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President Higgins met with the Pope in the Vatican on Friday

Mr Higgins, who was in Rome on Friday for a meeting with the Pope, said he would not reverse his decision to stay away from next month’s event in Armagh.

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

“There is no question of snubbing anyone. I am not snubbing anyone and I am not part of the boycott of anyone of any other event in Northern Ireland.

“I wish their service the best of luck, but they understand that I have the right to exercise discretion as to what I think is appropriate for my participation.”

He said his problem was the title of the service, which began as a “church service” but had “become a political statement”.

“I was also called the President of the Republic of Ireland. I am the President of Ireland.”

Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson delivers his speech at the Stormont Hotel in Belfast, Northern Ireland on July 1, 2021. REUTERS / Jason Cairnduff
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DUP chief Sir Jeffrey Donaldson criticized Mr Higgins’ decision

Trade unionists questioned the decision, with DUP leader Sir Jeffery Donaldson asking if it was politically motivated because of advice from the Irish government.

The Dublin government has denied having had any influence on the movement.

Foreign Secretary Simon Coveney insisted the decision was taken solely by Mr Higgins and said the Irish government had given him no “clear advice” on the invitation to the Armagh event .

Michael D Higgins declined an invitation to attend a church service to mark Northern Ireland's centenary
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Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney insisted the decision was taken only by Mr Higgins.

“My department would be involved in consultations with Aras An Uachtarain (official residence of the president) and the president’s team regularly on a lot of things, we have not given any clear advice to the president in relation to this particular event”, a- he declared.

“I think it is clear from the statements the President has made on this matter that he made his own decision.”

Mr Higgins took issue with the criticisms of the DUP and said: “It is a bit too much, to be frank with you. I have been to Northern Ireland to participate in events.

“Often there hasn’t been a lot of traffic from the DUP people who are criticizing me now.”

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