President says Anglo tapes do not reflect the views of the Irish people

Higgins says tapes do not make for easy listening

President Michael D Higgins speaking at the Community garden party yesterday at Aras an Uachtarain. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

President Michael D Higgins speaking at the Community garden party yesterday at Aras an Uachtarain. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

Sun, Jun 30, 2013, 19:38

The voices heard on the taped conversations of Anglo Irish bankers were not those of the Irish people, President Michael D Higgins said today.

He said the attitudes they revealed were not shared by the Irish people and the behaviours they reflected were not characteristic of the Irish people. He recalled often speaking in the past of the terrible damage that had been inflicted on society by the aggressive individualism and self-interest of a speculative economy.

“This week, voices from the past have been heard which serve to highlight behaviours and attitudes at the very root of that failed speculative model,’’ he added. “They do not make for easy listening.’’

Mr Higgins’s remarks, made at a community garden party in Aras an Uachtarain, drew loud applause from those present.

He said the Irish people, who had borne the brunt of a financial crisis not of their making, were shocked and dismayed that a culture of greed and recklessness emerged in some of our institutions - a culture that was neither in keeping with our core values as a nation or, indeed, our current convictions or determination to move to a new chapter in our history.

“The Irish people, who are rightly recognised for their fortitude, work ethic and courage, will take us out of this present crisis,’’ Mr Higgins added.

“The authentic voice, spirit and values of Ireland will be restored and lead to what is important - a real economy that provides sustainable employment for all and a just and ethical society that allows all its citizens to fully participate and achieve their life potential.’’

That was the message, he said, that Ireland’s sons and daughters, all Irish people, wanted to go out at home and abroad.

“And I know that informed foreign opinion will recognise that the real story from Ireland is not the aberrant voices we heard this week but the heroism of its people who are determined, not only to get through this crisis, but to secure a future that is just, prosperous and sustainable and offer that achievement to the people of Europe and beyond,’’ he added.

Mr Higgins said it was encouraging to see from the attendance such strong reassurance that the great Irish community spirit was alive and well and that so many people were showing such resilience and continuing to work to keep community and family at the heart of society.

“It is something that I have encountered again and again during my time as President and long may it continue and may it bear fruit for you and the people you care for,’’ he added.

Mr Higgins said the transformative power of communities working together was immense. Their combined strength in restoring, rejuvenating and reimagining connections with committees, celebrating and retaining all that was best about their past while participating confidently in a modern and globalised world was so impressive.

Ireland, he said, was in a decade of important commemorations. “It is a time to remember that a knowledge of our history is intrinsic to the creation of active and responsible citizenship and to the building of communities and a society that are fair, inclusive and participative,’’ he added.

Mr Higgins said that, this year, Ireland was celebrating the courage, endurance and historical human rights significance of the Dublin lockout of 1913.

“If we are to flourish in the present and future, we need to fully understand when and how things worked in the past,’’ he added.