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Touchdown: The President has arrived in the UK as historic State visit begins

Michael D Higgins has a busy few days ahead of him…

Updated 22:28pm

Source: IrishForeignMinistry/YouTube

The Department of Foreign Affairs has released the above video which asks people on both sides of the Irish Sea what the State visit means to them. 

PRESIDENT MICHAEL D Higgins and his wife Sabina have arrived in the UK ahead of a historic State visit which formally gets under way tomorrow.

Higgins and his wife were accompanied by the Tánaiste and other officials on the short flight to Heathrow airport where the red carpet was laid out upon arrival in a grey and rain-soaked London.

They were greeted by the Irish ambassador to the UK Daniel Muhall and his wife Greta with representatives of the Queen and the British government also in attendance along with the Metropolitan Police Commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe.

The President has a busy schedule which includes meetings with the Queen and other royal figures, several senior British politicians including prime minister David Cameron, and several events involving the Irish community in the UK.

The visit reciprocates the historic visit of Queen Elizabeth to Ireland in May 2011.

Earlier, the President received full military honours as he departed Áras an Uachtaráin bound for Baldonnel where the government jet flew him to Heathrow.

Speaking to the BBC before his departure, President Higgins said that victims of violence in Northern Ireland deserve an apology “on all sides”.

The President said that those involved in the violence had established a distance between versions of themselves and actions they deemed necessary at the time but said all could show a “great deal more” humility.

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He said that a lasting peace would not be possible without addressing the past, saying: “I think you have to address the past… You can’t allow yourself to be crippled by the past.

“You have to be able to address the past in a way that doesn’t cripple you, in the present, or damage you into the future.

Meanwhile, the President told the Irish Post that he expects the Queen to make more frequent visits to Ireland.

He also said he expected other members of the Royal family to visit Ireland in the future.

Originally published at 6:15pm

Follow all our State Visit coverage here >

The President is off to the UK later today and here’s what he’ll be getting up to

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Hugh O'Connell

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