Ireland’s president, Michael Higgins, will be in Seattle this week. He will be the third foreign head of state to visit the area in two months.
The president of Ireland will visit Seattle this week, Mayor Ed Murray said Monday.
Michael Higgins will meet with Murray on Wednesday and on Thursday will tour Sammamish’s Skyline High School, where Gaelic football is played, the mayor said.
The Irish president will spend time at Microsoft’s Redmond campus and will be greeted by members of Seattle’s Irish community at McCaw Hall, the mayor said.
Higgins will deliver a speech Friday at the University of Washington about the role of technology in sustainable development. The Limerick-born 74-year-old will travel to San Francisco, Sacramento and Berkeley, Calif., after leaving Seattle on Saturday.
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Higgins won’t create the same hubbub in Seattle as Xi, whose stop drew hundreds of protesters and well-wishers onto downtown streets and whose heavily guarded motorcade shut down major Puget Sound thoroughfares, snarling traffic for hours.
The Irish leader hails from a much smaller country, and his government is a parliamentary democracy in which he plays a mostly ceremonial role.
“He’s not coming here to announce any big deals — just to continue the connection between Seattle and Ireland,” Murray said.
“This is being visited by the head of state of 7 million people versus 1 billion. But as an Irish American, I’m very excited to have the Irish president visiting.”
The mayor traveled to Ireland last year, stopping in Galway, a Seattle sister city, and meeting with Ireland Prime Minister Enda Kenny in Dublin. Kenny had traveled to Seattle in 2013 to highlight a purchase of Boeing jets by Ryanair, an Irish airline.
Seattle has smaller Irish and Irish-American communities than some other American cities, but the Emerald City and Emerald Isle share close economic ties, Murray said.
There are a good number of Irish people working for technology companies in the Seattle area and Microsoft has for years maintained operations across the pond.
Ireland is attractive to companies like Microsoft partly because its tax rates are low. But its well-educated, English-speaking workforce also is a draw, Murray said.
Higgins and his wife, Sabina Higgins, will visit the Chihuly Gardens and the Space Needle after seeing Murray on Wednesday, according to a schedule on his website.
His Friday speech will be titled, “Taking Responsibility for Climate Change” and will be followed by a question-and-answer session.