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Statement following meeting between President Higgins and President of the Portuguese Republic, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa

Date: Wed 19th Oct, 2022 | 14:43

President Michael D. Higgins today received His Excellency the President of the Portuguese Republic, Professor Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, at Áras an Uachtaráin. The event was the official commencement of President de Sousa’s two day State Visit to Ireland. 

Following a ceremonial welcome, a bilateral meeting took place between the two Heads of State. After the meeting, President de Sousa planted an Irish Oak tree in the grounds of Áras an Uachtaráin and rang the Peace Bell.

At their meeting President Higgins, having welcomed President de Sousa to Ireland, noted that this year marks the 80th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Ireland and Portugal. The President further highlighted the historical, cultural, scientific and diplomatic relations between the two countries.

The discussions between the two Presidents followed on from those which took place at the recent meeting of the Arraiolos Group of non-executive European Heads of State in Malta earlier this month. Among the topics that the two Presidents discussed were: 

  • outcomes of the Conference on the Future of Europe;
  • the extreme challenges currently facing multilateralism following the illegal Russian invasion of Ukraine, some conclusions from President Higgins’ visit last week to the Council of Europe and the importance of relaying the work of multilateral institutions such as the Council of Europe, the Court and the United Nations to citizens;
  • the Presidents discussed the need not only for immediate humanitarian targets to be met in the Horn of Africa, but for transforming structural changes to be made to avoid repeated cycles of famine in the region. They further discussed the need for debt restructuring and debt forgiveness in famine stricken countries; 
  • Ireland and Portugal’s shared Atlantic and maritime perspectives, including the key challenge presented by climate change, the recent Ocean Conference co-hosted by Portugal earlier this year and the urgent need for an international Oceans Treaty to be agreed; 
  • commemoration and reconciliation, including the challenges and choices, integrity and the ethics of memory, in the context of Ireland’s Decade of Centenaries and the forthcoming 50th anniversary of Portugal’s Carnation Revolution in 2024; and
  • President de Sousa’s plans for the 2023 annual meeting of the Arraiolos Group, which is due to be hosted by Portugal next year.

President de Sousa will return to Áras an Uachtaráin this evening for a State Dinner in his honour, to be hosted by the President and Sabina Higgins. 

On Thursday, the President and Sabina will accompany President de Sousa on his visit to the Tom Crean Research Vessel and attend a return hospitality reception, hosted by President de Sousa, to be held in their honour in Farmleigh.

President de Sousa’s visit follows the State Visit of President Higgins to Portugal in December 2015, when the President visited Lisbon and Porto.