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President’s visit was one of several firsts

THE visit of President Michael D Higgins to Tyrone was not the only historic first, as the man who welcomed him to the county was also enjoying his inaugural trip to the GAA Centre at Garvaghey.

The Lord Lieutenant for the county, Robert Lowry Scott, was also the first person to greet the President on his arrival at the first of three engagements on Saturday.

Speaking to the UH following the event, Mr Scott, said he was ‘extremely pleased’ to have finally got the opportunity to meet President Higgins officially within the county.

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“This is the last of the six counties of Northern Ireland that he has visited and it’s so nice to see him here on such a lovely sunny day,” he said.

“It’s the second time that I’ve met him. The first was on his State visit to the UK a number of years ago and then at the Royal Albert Hall in London at a celebration of Irish creativity.

“I’m absolutely delighted to be here and it’s a great honour to welcome him to Co Tyrone.

“We talked about quite a number of things, including migration and in particular migrant communities and their importance to places like Omagh.

“There is a large Hungarian population in the area who have come here as engineers and welders and make a great contribution to our local economy. Likewise, a lot of businesses in Dungannon and Cookstown depend on migrant workers.

“His interest in that was reflect in his later visit to the Ulster American Folk Park.”

Mr Scott also praised the work of the GAA in Tyrone and the facilities at Garvaghey which he visited for the first time on Saturday.

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“I have driven past this facility along the A5 on so many occasions and seen all the lights,” he added. “Now I realise what a tremendous facility there is here and I’m so delighted to have been invited here also.”

Meanwhile the new home of Drumragh Sarsfields was bedecked in the green and white colours of the club for the arrival of the President who was greeted by the club chairman, Adrian O’Kane. In a wide-ranging address to members and supporters, Mr Higgins, praised the efforts of the club in providing a range of activities for all ages.

“It really is something special that Drumragh have to celebrate here and I have been so pleased to meet all the guests here today, including the club presidents of the past, who have worked so hard to make this new facility a reality,” he said.

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