MICHAEL D Higgins is under fire after he was seen posing for photos at a couple of book shops without wearing a face mask in an apparent breach of Covid-19 restrictions.
The president was in Galway promoting his new book Reclaiming The European Street, which is a collection of his speeches on Europe since 2016.
He stopped to sign some copies, chat to staff and engage in a quick photo-op, but appeared to forget about wearing his face mask.
It has been mandatory to wear a mask in shops since last August - a requirement introduced in regulations made under amendments to the Health Act that President Higgins himself signed into law.
Upon signing the bill, he said: "These new health and social measures may be difficult for many but they affect us all and we are at a point now when a person’s actions have consequences not only for themselves but for all in society.
"Irresponsible individual action puts all at risk."
We had a very special visitor into the shop today! Many thanks to Uachtarán na hÉireann, Michael D. Higgins who called in to sign copies of his book, Reclaiming the European Street this afternoon. pic.twitter.com/Sqsu0gYIYD
— CharlieByrne'sBooks (@ByrnesBooks) August 5, 2021
Aras an Uachtarain later confirmed that the president had removed his mask "briefly" while posing for a few photographs, but insisted that public health measures were followed in all other instances.
A spokesperson said: "The President wore his mask throughout his visits in support of local bookstores and only took his mask off for a number of brief posed photographs for the shops’ archives. Social distancing was observed throughout."