Europe

President-elect Michael D Higgins welcomed home to Galway

Michael D Higgins waved to supporters who had gathered in Galway city
Image caption Michael D Higgins waved to supporters who had gathered in Galway city

The President of Ireland-elect Michael D Higgins has been greeted by over 5,000 supporters at a welcome home rally in Galway city.

Crowds of people lined Eyre Square on Sunday afternoon, holding banners and chanting Mr Higgins' name.

The poet and campaigner was officially elected on Saturday with 1,007,104 votes.

His victory over one-time favourite Sean Gallagher was evident within an hour of the ballot boxes being opened.

Speaking at the special event Mr Higgins said: "I think the important thing now is to have a celebration and then with determination move into our common, shared, different future."

His wife Sabine Coyne added: "I feel so happy for Michael, myself and for the Irish people.

"I think they said a big yes and everywhere people were weeping, crying and celebrating," she added.

'Transformation'

Mr Higgins hosted a reception at the Mansion House in Dublin on Saturday night for members of his campaign team and paid tribute to them for the huge effort they had made during the election.

In his acceptance speech, he said he wanted to be a president for all the people.

He said Irish people had to work together to tackle their shared problems.

"We must now work to our strengths at home and abroad, not only cooperatively and collectively but sustainably for the benefit of all of our present generations and those to come," he added.

"The necessary transformation of which I speak and of which my presidency will be a part is built on turning creative possibilities into living realities for all our people."

He also announced that from "this moment" he would cease to be a member and president of the Irish Labour party.

Mr Higgins will be inaugurated on Armistice Day, 11 November, the day after current president Mary McAleese leaves office.