President Higgins departs for State visits to Australia and New Zealand

He will be the first head of state to address the joint Houses of Parliament of Western Australia

President Higgins departs for State visits to Australia and New Zealand

President Michael D and his Wife Sabina at Aras an Uachtarain in Dublin | Image: Sam Boal/Rollingnews.ie

The President Michael D Higgins is making State visits to Australia and New Zealand.

His programme of events runs from October 7th to 23th.

The Australian visit is the first State visit by an Irish president there since 1998.

He will be accompanied by his wife Sabina Higgins.

President Higgins will have informal meetings in Perth before the official start of the State Visit - visiting Fremantle Prison and attending the Australasian GAA Championships Games.

Perth

On October 9th, he will visit Government House in Perth, with a traditional ceremony from aboriginal elders and a formal welcome by the Governor of Western Australia Kerry Sanderson.

He will also unveil a Famine Memorial in Subiaco Park. The sculpture is designed by Charlie Smith and Joan Walsh-Smith, originally from Waterford, and commemorates the Great Irish Famine.

On October 10th, President Higgins will become the first head of state to address the joint Houses of Parliament of Western Australia.

The title of the president’s address will be "Ireland and Australia - A Deep, Historic and Valuable Contemporary Relationship."

Later that day, the president will receive an honorary doctorate at the University of Western Australia, and he will host a reception for the Irish community in Perth.

Melbourne, Hobart, Canberra and Sydney

Mr Higgins will then visit Melbourne, Hobart, Canberra and Sydney.

He will address a group of companies working with Enterprise Ireland, receive an honorary doctorate at the University of Melbourne and visit the Irish Australian Support and Resource Bureau.

In Tasmania, the President and Mrs Higgins will unveil statues by Irish sculptor Rowan Gillespie commemorating thousands of female convicts transported to Tasmania.

The President will go on to visit Cascades Female Factory, a World Heritage Site dedicated to the memory of the thousands of women and children imprisoned there.

In Canberra, Mr Higgins will travel to Parliament House for meetings with the Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Australia's Governor-General Peter Cosgrove.

On Monday October 23rd following a reception for the Irish community in Brisbane, the President and Mrs Higgins will leave Australia and begin a State Visit to New Zealand.