President Higgins and the ‘neoliberals’


Sir, – Dan O’Brien’s commentary on President Higgins (September 20th) is something of a surprise. So, President Higgins has been a champion of the poor, the vulnerable and the marginalised. What else did he expect?

President Higgins has been a prophetic voice and his message has been consistent throughout his public career. He has also been scrupulous in upholding his constitutional obligations while remaining faithful to his promises.

As far as Michael D Higgins is concerned we have never had to ask the question posed by Woodie Guthrie “Which Side are You On?”. For that, I for one am grateful. – Yours, etc,



Larkin Hedge School,

Spencer House, Dublin 1.

Sir, – I second Dr Aidan Regan’s comment that “President Higgins should be commended for his bravery to confront the intellectual hubris that accompanied this (. . reckless behaviour of private market actors).”, (Letters, September 21st). I look forward to the day when he will show the same critical courage in relation to his neoLaboural converts to the same unreformed and disastrous ideological conformity. The breath is not being held. – Yours, etc,


Castleview Estate,

Headford, Co Galway.

Sir, – Dan O’Brien (“Presidency ill-served by economic partisanship”, September 20th) displays an economist’s partisanship in his failure to address the central arguments of President Higgins’s recent speech.

This speech was given in a DCU series titled Ethics for All, and yet O’Brien mentions the ethical dimension only in passing. The speech explored the values and choices that underlie the dominant economic discourse.

The President offered a critique of the supposedly value-free character of economics, drawing on the observations of Emile Durkheim (not in O’Brien’s listing of dubious characters the President cited approvingly) on the social sciences of over a century ago. He drew attention to the quantification bias in current economics and made a “contentious assertion” that economics might be better considered a craft rather than a science.

The President observed, following Nobel prize-winner Amartya Sen (also not in O’Brien’s listing), that Adam Smith (ditto) has been misrepresented; his writings on morality have been neglected in consideration of his economic theory.

The President is a public intellectual and serves his office and the people well by offering a critique of ideas that shape our society. – Yours, etc,


Griffith Avenue,

Dublin 11.