The State Visit to Malta has been re-scheduled following an earlier postponement in December 2021 in light of global developments with the emergence of the Omicron COVID-19 variant.
The President and Sabina Higgins will be accompanied on the State Visit by the Minister for Rural and Community Development and Minister for Social Protection, Heather Humphreys, T.D.
In addition to his meetings with political leaders at State level - including President George Vella, Prime Minister Robert Abela, the Leader of the Opposition Bernard Grech and the Speaker of the House of Representatives Anġlu Farrugia - President Higgins will also deliver a keynote speech at the European Union Agency for Asylum, based in Valletta, where he will also meet with students of the University of Malta, including the Mediterranean Academy of Diplomatic Studies (MEDAC).
Over the course of the State Visit, President Higgins will visit a number of cultural and historic sights and will also meet members of the Irish community based in Malta. Diplomatic relations between Ireland and Malta were established in 1990 and it was during the Irish Presidency of the EU in 2004 that Malta joined the EU.
Official engagements will begin on Thursday 12 May, when President and Sabina Higgins will be officially welcomed to Malta at San Anton Palace, Attard, by the President of the Republic of Malta, George Vella and Mrs Miriam Vella.
President Vella will receive the President for a meeting in San Anton Palace followed by a meeting together with their delegations. The agenda for the Presidents’ meeting is expected to cover European Union matters, including developments in Ukraine, the Conference on the Future of Europe, Enlargement and EU-UK relations; Global issues including multilateralism, neutrality as an instrument for peace, migration, climate change and the UN Security Council; developments in the Mediterranean region; and Malta’s upcoming hosting of the 2022 meeting of the Arraiolos Group of non-executive European Heads of State.
President Higgins will then travel to lay a wreath before the War Memorial at Floriana, the fortified town located just outside Valletta. Later that day, President Higgins will meet with the Prime Minister, Hon. Robert Abela MP, the Leader of the Opposition, Hon. Bernard Grech MP, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Anġlu Farrugia. The day will close with a State Dinner hosted by President Vella, where President Higgins will deliver a short speech and toast in response to President Vella.
The second day will begin with a visit to the headquarters of the European Union Agency for Asylum (EUAA), where President Higgins will be briefed by Mr Mark Camilleri, Head of Management Centre & Head of Governance. Following this meeting, the President will deliver a keynote speech on the issue of migration to an audience including EUAA guests, staff and students from the University of Malta including the Mediterranean Academy of Diplomatic Studies (MEDAC). This will be followed by a questions and answers session.
The morning of the second day will continue with a visit to the major cultural sites of Valletta, including St John’s Co-Cathedral and the Upper Barrakka Gardens, followed by a private lunch hosted by President Vella & Mrs Vella in Verdala Palace.
The evening of the second day will conclude at MUŻA, the Malta National Community Art Museum in Valletta, where the President will be the guest of honour at a reception for the Irish community, hosted by the Ambassador of Ireland to Malta, Patrick Duffy.
The final day of the State Visit, Saturday 14 May, will include a visit to the megalithic temples at Ħaġar Qim, Qrendi. The President will then return to San Anton Palace where a final têtê-à-têtê between President Vella and President Higgins will take place followed by a tree planting ceremony. Following this, President Higgins and Sabina Higgins will return to Ireland, with the State Visit concluding with a Departure Ceremony at Malta International Airport.