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President Higgins to visit people affected by deadly Christchurch earthquake

The centre of the city was largely levelled and a massive rebuilding project has been undertaken.

A row of destroyed shops in Christchurch after 2011's earthquake.
A row of destroyed shops in Christchurch after 2011's earthquake.
Image: PA Archive/PA Images

IRISH PRESIDENT MICHAEL D Higgins is today visiting Christchurch in New Zealand to witness the reconstruction efforts in the city which was devastated by an earthquake in 2011.

185 people died in the earthquake, including two Irish citizens. Owen McKenna and John O’Connor lost their lives when buildings collapsed on them. Christchurch GAA renamed and rebranded itself Christchurch McKenna GAA Club in honour of Owen McKenna, from Co Monaghan.

The centre of the city was largely levelled and a massive rebuilding project has been undertaken in recent years.

Around 1,600 Irish-born people were living in the greater Christchurch area in 2013. Over half arrived after the earthquake.

President Higgins will meet with members of the Irish community in Christchurch, including the spouses of John O’Connor and Owen McKenna. He will also visit the Re: Start Mall, a shopping centre made from shipping containers in the wake of the disaster.

He will also visit the Canterbury Earthquake National Memorial, the Bridge of Remembrance and an exhibition called Quake City.

Yesterday Higgins met with New Zealand’s Prime Minister-elect Jacinda Ardern.

A statement said that the President “thanked the Prime Minister-elect for the warm welcome he had received in New Zealand and spoke of the close ties between the two nations, the decision of each country to open an embassy in each other’s capital, and the values they share, including their work at the United Nations”.

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