Irish President visits Belfast

Published Friday, 02 March 2012
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Irish President Michael D Higgins has praised students at the Titanic Quarter campus of Belfast Metropolitan College during his first presidential visit to the city.

The flagship Belfast Met building, which cost £44m, was opened in September last year and caters for 5,000 full-time students.

On Friday, President Higgins saw a showcase of what the students have been working on throughout the year, from an excerpt of Les Misérables to a fashion show.

Justin Edwards, Assistant Chief Executive at the Met, said 100 students presented their work so far to the President.

"It's recognition of what vocational education and training is doing and it's an opportunity to look round this lovely new building on the Titanic Quarter campus," he added.

President Higgins, a former Culture Minister for Labour in the 1990s, said the show of creative writing and drama was "wonderful... full of hope".

"The fashion is extraordinarily strong, it offers great prospects I think, that they are only in first year. The quality of the dramatic presentation is something else. It gives me a great sense of life," he told UTV.

Earlier in the visit, the President told an ICTU conference at the Waterfront Hall that economic failure is driving young people overseas, but added that "cynical fatalism" will not serve the people of Ireland well in the face of the financial crisis.

During his time in Belfast, President Higgins was greeted by Lord Mayor Niall Ó Donnghaile.

He also visited Queen's University where he and his wife saw a selection of materials from Seamus Heaney's translation of the Beowulf Poem at the McClay Library.

© UTV News
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