President of Greece Prokopios Pavlopoulos and Vlassia Pavlopoulou with President Michael D Higgins and Sabina Higgins at Áras an Uachtaráin
Minister of State Finian McGrath represented the Government during the State visit of the President of Greece to Áras an Uachtaráin as all senior Ministers were unavailable.
Jack Power, in The Irish Times, reports:
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar was due to meet Mr Pavlopoulos at Government Buildings on Thursday afternoon, but the meeting was cancelled earlier that morning, with Mr Varadkar attending events on the Fine Gael campaign trail instead.
…Mr McGrath is the only TD who sits at Cabinet who is not standing in the upcoming general election.
One senior Áras source said there was a sense of disappointment that the Government had not sent a senior Minister to attend the welcome ceremony.
President Michael D Higgins was doing an interview with WYNC, during which Ellen Davidson, wife of Tarek Kauff, rang into the show.
Ms Davidson, who lives in Manhattan but is currently based in Dublin, said:
“I understand President Higgins is a big supporter of Irish neutrality so I’m wondering why the Irish Government is allowing US military flights to go through Shannon Airport in violation of that neutrality, bringing troops to the Middle East, to the wars that cause the refugees he’s been talking about.
“And, also, about the case of two US veterans who did a peaceful protest against those flights in March and they’ve been held in Ireland ever since, without their passports, on very minor charges, for a peaceful protest.”
President Higgins responded:
“Yes, I think that your caller will know these are issues, when I was a member of parliament, I spoke and acted very often. I do think that the issue – the two people whose case I am familiar – is a matter for Government and I will draw the attention of Government to it.
“But you’ll appreciate that as president, I cannot interfere in the executive decisions of Government.”
Meanwhile, also yesterday…
At the New York. Library.
President Higgins took part in an interview with journalist and senior writer at the New York Times Dan Barry.
After the interview finished, Zaidie Mayers, the granddaughter of Mr Mayers, approached President Higgins and raised her granddad’s case.
President Higgins said:
“I’ve read about the two people who were on that walk. I’ll see what I can do.”
“All my life I have campaigned for a real republic. I have seen the power of people’s will transform this country. We’ve done things we thought were never possible. And there’s so much more we can achieve.” Michael D Higgins. #Aras18#MichaelDforPresidentpic.twitter.com/knNgQG9Vqc