Higgins urges ‘hope and solidarity’ at a defining moment for Ireland

Christmas message: President seeks renewal of sense of solidarity, sensitivity, forgiveness

President Michael D. Higgins has praised the generosity and self-sacrifice of the people of Ireland throughout a Covid-hit 2020 during his annual Christmas and new year address. Video: Áras an Uachtaráin

 

President Michael D Higgins has called for “hope and solidarity” at what he is calling a defining moment in the nation’s history.

In his annual Christmas message, the President of Ireland encouraged people to renew their sense of solidarity, sensitivity and forgiveness as “we move beyond the Winter Solstice towards the longer, warmer days to come”.

“Christmas has always signified a moment of hope, and the revival of hope, a moment to find encouragement, even in the most difficult and trying of circumstances,” he said.

“Today, we share in the grief of those who have lost loved ones this year. We share, too, the pain of those whose lives and livelihoods have been changed... and we stand with our friends, family members and neighbours who have experienced isolation,” he went on.

From Áras An Uachtaráin in Dublin, the President sent his warmest wishes for a “peaceful and happy Christmas” to all residents of Ireland and made special mention of Irish citizens who could not travel this year to spend Christmas with their loved ones.

Regarding the pandemic, he said working together to control the spread of Covid-19 “requires the best of us all”, and that the efforts of everyone must be renewed and redoubled.

It had been a particularly challenging year for people in vulnerable groups, for whom the impact of Covid-19 had been “greatly magnified”, the President continued. He said the compassion, care and empathy extended to people in such groups will “define how history will recall these times”.

“We have learnt in recent months that kindness is a precious commodity... We have seen so many examples of good citizens placing the common good above their own wants, making sacrifices as they think beyond the self in the protection of others,” he added.

Hope and solidarity

President Higgins also encouraged people to continue their lives in a spirit of hope and solidarity.

“As we stand at a defining moment in our nation’s history, let us choose together how we wish to write this next chapter; how we wish to shape a new Ireland waiting to be born.”

He said this new Ireland can be a better place as people reflect on their values. The new Ireland can also better address the population’s shared existence and “shared vulnerability”.

“When we reflect on our recent experiences this Christmas, this spirit of solidarity can be our guiding light as we proceed onwards towards a new year that will offer us our challenges but which we can approach with hope as a result of what we have been doing together,” he said.