The President's message
Good public morale is important in any properly functioning society and the Christmas message of President Michael D Higgins was designed to promote it and hold out the prospect of a more creative future in social and economic terms. At a time when many families are struggling with their financial obligations, he called for a better balance at European level between austerity measures and job creation. And in an implicit criticism of EU leaders, he urged a renewal of the founding idealism of a Europe based on common citizenship, social solidarity, cohesion and shared cultures.
The President urged Irish people not to be downcast by temporary economic difficulties but to value and develop the potential for innovation that exists within communities. There was nothing particularly new in what he said. It was the support and understanding he offered that was important. Meeting young people at special conferences has been a feature of Mr Higgins’s first year in office, an experience that reinforced his conviction that they viewed the future in a positive light and were determined to contribute to constructive change. Our society was not defined by fiscal problems, he insisted, and networks of communities throughout the country were increasingly active in responding to their own and to society’s difficulties.
In supporting local development and encouraging a greater degree of community support for those in difficult personal and financial circumstances, the President paid tribute to those who maintain essential services – gardaí, prison officers, members of the Defence Forces, emergency services and medical staff – and wished them well. Mr Higgins referred to “our scattered people around the world who value their connection with their homeland”. In the context of a Christmas message, it was probably as much as could be expected. As for individual and public morale, his message was simple: Pause, reflect and celebrate the things we rightly cherish.