President Michael D Higgins attended two engagements in Mayo this afternoon - on the same day as he confirmed his intention for run for a second term in Áras an Uachtaráin.

His first stop was at Hope House in Foxford, the addiction treatment centre which is celebrating its 25th anniversary.

Speaking at Hope House, President Higgins outlined his concerns about alcohol and drug abuse and gambling - particularly the increase in on-line gambling, and the amount of advertisements for gambling websites that are broadcast during TV sports programmes.

President Higgins travelled from Foxford to the National Museum of Country Life in Turlough, Castlebar this afternoon to open an exhibition entitled "Travellers Journey".

The exhibition explores Traveller life and traditions in the West of Ireland, and has been co-curated with Traveller organisations in the West.

President Higgins said the Traveller community is an essential and cherished part of the Irish nation.

He said travellers comprise 0.7% of the Irish population, and retain a unique position in Ireland as a native but distinctly nomadic group.

The President referred to the poor education levels within the Traveller community, and other challenges they face, but said last year's Government decision to formally recognise Irish Travellers as an indigenous ethnic community was a major step forward.

The Travellers Journey Exhibition will be open from today until next May at the National Museum of Country Life in Turlough.


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