'Much to build on' in 2013, says President


There was “much to be proud of, and much to build on, as we prepare for the new year and look forward with hope and courage to realising all the possibilities that it presents”, President Michael D Higgins has said.

These possibilities included “Ireland’s seventh presidency of the European Union which coincides with European Year of Citizens in 2013, and the opportunity that represents to renew the founding idealism of Europe – a Europe of citizens, of social solidarity, of cohesion, and of shared cultures”.

In his Christmas and New Year message, Mr Higgins said our economic condition did not define who we were. We were “a country with a network of communities, that are increasingly active in responding to their own, and their society’s, difficulties. We also have the resource of our scattered people around the world, who support each other, and who value their connection with their homeland”.

A priority during his first year in office had been “to engage with, and listen to, our young people”. This had confirmed for him “that our young people have a very positive vision for the future of Ireland, and are determined to make their contribution to positive change”.

Christmas was a time, he said, to “pause, reflect, and celebrate the things that we rightly cherish”, and to “reach out to others who – due to loss, emigration, illness or financial circumstances – are going through a difficult time”.

We should be mindful too, “of those who maintain essential services during this time – our gardaí, prison officers, Defence Forces, emergency services and medical staff, who he thanked for “their dedicated service to our community”.

Mr Higgins extended best wishes “to all the people of Ireland” and “members of the Irish family wherever they may be”.