A FLAG RAISING CEREMONY is taking place at Dublin Castle this morning to mark a big year for Ireland within the European Union.
From tomorrow, Ireland is to host the EU Presidency for the first six months of the year.
Believed to cost in the region of €60 million, the six month stint is set to cost less than the last time Ireland held the presidency in 2004.
Having joined the EU in 1973, 2013 also marks the 40th year of Ireland’s EU accession, which is also being marked at the ceremony.
2013 will also be the European Year of Citizens.
In attendance are An Taoiseach Enda Kenny, Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore and the Minister of State for European Affairs, Lucinda Creighton, in addition to other government ministers and the Lord Mayor of Dublin, Naoise Ó Muirí.
40 balloons are set to be released by schoolchildren engaged in the EU-focused Blue Star programme for primary schools.
Both the Irish and EU anthems will be played by the Defence Forces Band to mark the occasion, while the Methodist College Choir from Belfast will also be on hand.