World : Irish Woman President Sworn In

From Times Wire Services

The nation’s first female president, Mary Robinson, was inaugurated today at Dublin Castle, and she extended a hand of friendship to both Protestants and Catholics in strife-ridden Northern Ireland.

“I will seek to encourage mutual understanding and tolerance between all the different communities sharing this island,” Robinson said in her acceptance speech, delivered in English and Gaelic.

A 21-gun salute echoed across the Irish capital as Robinson was sworn in by Chief Justice Thomas Finlay at the medieval, turreted castle after an interdenominational service. About 500 church and state dignitaries and Dublin-based foreign diplomats attended.

The president, a 46-year-old feminist lawyer, campaigned for the largely ceremonial post on a liberal platform of change and a more involved presidency. She won the Nov. 9 election with 52.8% of the vote.