Poet Higgins becomes Ireland's ninth president

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Poet Higgins becomes Ireland's ninth president

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Michael D. Higgins, a former culture minister and part-time poet, has been officially named as Ireland’s new president.

Higgins said in his victory speech he want to rebuild the Irish people’s trust in government following the collapse of the economy and an EU-IMF bailout.

“I saw and felt and feel the pain of the Irish people,” the 70-year-old said.

“I recognise the need for reflection on those values and assumptions often carelessly taken that have brought us such a sorry past in social and economic terms.”

Higgins beat an ex-IRA commander and former reality TV contest to the largely ceremonial post with nearly 57 per cent of the final vote.

But a referendum to grant parliament with the power to haul the former heads of failed lenders Anglo Irish Bank and Irish Nationwide before MPs was narrowly defeated.

Ireland’s debt-fulled property bubble burst in 2008, leaving borrowers unable to repay their loans.

The government spent an estimated 70 billion euros on bailing out four banks, swelling the country’s sovereign debt pile.