Minister Simon Coveney has confirmed that the Department for Foreign Affairs consulted Áras an Uachtaráin regarding an invitation for the President to a church service marking Northern Ireland’s centenary.
However, Coveney said it was Michael D. Higgins own decision to not attend the service with Queen Elizabeth.
“There was consultation between the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Áras on this issue and many other issues, but I can assure you President Higgins is the kind of person who makes his own decisions,” Coveney said.
“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.”
Coveney continued to say: “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.”
IMAGE -“President Michael D Higgins” by The Labour Party (CC BY-ND 2.0)/“Simon Coveney TD, Tánaiste and Minister” (CC BY 2.0) by Chatham House, London