Diasporas vital to Italy and Ireland - Higgins
The future Irish identity, or sense of "Irishness", will increasingly be informed by "the experience of the Irish abroad as much as . . . by those of us who live in Ireland", according to President Michael D Higgins.
The President made his remarks yesterday when addressing the James Joyce Italian Foundation at Roma Tre university at the start of what was to be a three-day visit to Italy.
The trip was cut short last night to enable him fly home to be on hand to sign into law new legislation in relation to the liquidation of the former Anglo Irish Bank.
Mr Higgins visited Italy at the invitation of his Italian counterpart, President Giorgio Napolitano, to mark the seventh Irish presidency of the European Union. He was due to have a series of encounters with members of the resident Irish community in Rome, as well, of course, as a meeting with Mr Napolitano in the Quirinale Palace.
In his speech to the Joyce foundation, Mr Higgins suggested that the migrant experience represented a fundamental aspect of the work not only of Joyce but also of other Irish writers such as playwrights Tom Murphy and Brian Friel and novelist John McGahern.
In that context, he said both Ireland and Italy "are countries long defined by a history of emigration" and were both fortunate that their "diasporic communities promote our respective communities all over the world".