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Who is the president of Ireland, and what does he do?

President Higgins
President Higgins by Chris Bellew / Fennell Photography. CC by SA 2.0

The current president of the Republic of Ireland is Michael Daniel Higgins, a former politician, poet, sociologist, and broadcaster. He was first elected as president in 2011, as the ninth president of Ireland since the state was established. 

Despite being born in Limerick in 1941, he is closely associated with Galway city, having studied at University College Galway where he then became a lecturer, before dedicating his time in full to politics. 

His wife is from Country Galway and they have four children, one of which is also a member of government, as a member of the Seanad.

Before and during his political life Higgins developed success as a writer and broadcaster, with numerous works appearing on television, and a collection of published books, many of which can be accessed at the National Gallery of Ireland. 

Higgins is also a human rights campaigner, using his writing as a platform for publicizing conflicts in troubled regions across the world, winning numerous awards in doing so. 

As an avid sports fan, Higgins can often be seen attending Galway United soccer games, a club where he previously served as President – a club who compete at the top level of football in Ireland, the League of Ireland. 

What is the role of Michael D Higgins, the president of Ireland?

The presidency in Ireland is mainly a ceremonial role. The president does have limited powers and does perform the following duties: 

  • The appointment of the Taoiseach (Head of Government / prime minister), members of the Government, judges and other officials;
  • The summoning and dissolving the Dáil (Irish Government offices) 
  • Signing legislation into law 
  • Representing the people of Ireland 
  • Acting as Supreme Commander of the Defense Forces

Where does the president of Ireland reside?

The president resides at “Áras an Uachtaráin”, which in Irish, means House of the President. It’s located within the Phoenix Park in Dublin, one of the world’s largest city parks. The residence was built in the mid eighteenth century, by a park ranger and amateur architect.

The residence can be seen when driving through the main road within the park. The building itself bears some resemblance to the White House in Washington, home of the US president. Some historians have claimed that the view of the residence from the main road inspired the Irish architect James Hoban, who then went on to design the White House himself.  

Until recently there were free guided tours of the presidential resilience every Saturday. Unfortunately since Covid these free tours are no longer in operation, and more information can be found on the Presidential website.

How long does the presidential term last?

Each presidential term in Ireland lasts for 7 years, with a maximum of two terms possible. President Higgins is currently serving his second term, which will last until 2025, at which point a new president must be elected. 

Further reading:

Author: Thiago

I moved to Ireland 2012. I work as a business administrator and travel a lot to Europe with my work. I enjoy writing and athletics during my vacation and try to visit friends and family every year in Brazil.
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