Higgins will not attend NI centenary service with Queen

President Michael D Higgins has declined an invitation to attend a church service with Britain’s Queen Elizabeth next month to mark Northern Ireland’s centenary.

The service, which is being organised by the leaders of the main Christian churches, is being held in Armagh at the end of October.

A spokesman for President Higgins said he is not in a position to attend the ceremony.

He said this has been communicated to the organisers and that the President has conveyed his good wishes to Queen Elizabeth.

The statement concluded: “The President has welcomed, and continues to welcome any opportunities to meet with her majesty and members of her family.”

It is understood that the President’s attendance had been expected at the event.

Áras an Uachtaráin has not explained why President Higgins will not be at the service.

The Catholic primate of All Ireland, Archbishop Eamon Martin, will attend along with the heads of the Church of Ireland, the Presbyterian Church in Ireland, the Methodist Church in Ireland and the Irish Council of Churches.

In a statement, the churches leaders said the service of “Reflection and Hope” will mark the centenaries of the partition of Ireland and the formation of Northern Ireland.

They said it was being held to contribute towards the work of building community and deepening relationships.

A spokesperson for Archbishop Martin said they had no further comment on the President’s attendance at the event.

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