Government fearful that Higgins controversy poses threat to relations with North

The President’s refusal to attend a commemoration of the 100th anniversary of partition has been described as a ‘hand grenade’ by one source within the coalition

Michael D Higgins: alerted Department of Foreign Affairs to his concerns months in advance. Picture: Tommy Clancy

The government is hoping that the controversy surrounding President Michael D Higgins’s refusal to attend a church service for the 100th anniversary of Northern Ireland will abate in the coming weeks, due to the potential threat it poses to North-South relations.

It is understood there is some unease within the government about the potential damage that Higgins’s decision could have on relations with the unionist community at such a sensitive time for the Brexit negotiations ...