President opens Young Scientist exhibition

Higgins praises the vision of the founders of event

President Michael D Higgins was welcomed to the BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition this afternoon like an X Factor winner. He walked about the RDS Main Hall posing for pictures and visiting stands, leaving thrilled students in his wake, shocked at having met Ireland's head of State in person.

His formal role was to deliver a speech and open the event, but once this was done he showed how he is a man of the people or more particularly of the students.

He was directed to one project after the next, his office and media entourage trailing along behind him. This in turn was swollen by students, looking for a chance to get a glimpse of President Higgins.

He was generous with his time, taking the trouble to visit more than a dozen stands along with his wife Sabina. He listened attentively to the students as they described their research and then showed the patience of Job, posing again and again for students with the gumption to walk up and request a posed picture with him.


“I am totally jealous, totally jealous,” said one despondent student opposite a stand visited by the President. Nor were the stops random. Mr Higgins went through lists of projects and selected a number of them himself.

It provided him with a vicarious tour of the State, with students from Cork, Dublin, Limerick, Sligo, Donegal and Tipperary presenting their work.

He praised the students for the way they advanced science and the schools, teachers and parents for the help given them in delivering their projects.

He particularly mentioned Dr Tony Scott, the co-founder of the Exhibition in 1965 with Fr Tom Burke, now deceased. "Their vision and generosity of spirit has been an inspiration for all who have participated," Mr Higgins said.

The exhibition opens to the public tomorrow afternoon and can be visited from Thursday through Saturday. The top four prizes including that for the young scientist of the year will be announced Friday evening.

Dick Ahlstrom

Dick Ahlstrom

Dick Ahlstrom, a contributor to The Irish Times, is the newspaper's former Science Editor.