‘Words matter. Words can hurt’ - Michael D Higgins’s acceptance speech in full
‘A real Republic is a Republic of equality, of shared vulnerabilities and of collective capacities’
Here is the full text of President Michael D Higgins’s acceptance speech, delivered after his re-election was confirmed in Dublin Castle on Saturday night.
“Is mian liom mo bhuíochas a ghabháil le Barra Ó Riain agus a fhoireann as ucht a saothar díograiseach i rith an chomhairimh seo.
Leis na Gárdaí, foireann an Chaisleáin Baile Átha Cliath agus na daoine go leir a bhí bainteach ar fad leis an feachtas ar mo shon agus a thug tacaíocht do na fiuntaisí a chuir muid ós coír an phobal - fiuntaisí bunaithe ar an gcothromaíocht agus tábhact na comphairtíochta, ní hamháin I leith an stair a roinnimíd ach do’n todchai a chaithfimíd a cruthú le chéile.
Ach is do mhuintir na hÉireann a ghabhaim buíochas ó’m chroí. Thóg síad an cinneadh tacaíocht a thabhairt do’n fís a chuir an feachtas ar mo shon rompu agus glacaim leis a dtacaíocht go húmhal ach le díogras.
I want to acknowledge the offer of public service that my fellow candidates have made in standing for this important role.
There are so many to thank. As an Independent candidate, I was deeply moved by the support I received from people of all political parties and none, and from every strand of Irish life. I am so grateful to my campaign team every one of whom brought their own experience and their diverse sources of commitment to work together on what were shared values.
They and I campaigned on values which the Irish public have now overwhelmingly chosen as reflecting what they believe to be the important and necessary basis for Ireland and our future.
The campaign that was organised from Lord Edward Street, and in so many places throughout the country, was a joy for me as candidate to experience - crafted as it was by some of the most committed, talented, creative people we have in this beautiful republic that is still coming into being and that is there for the shaping offers such hope for Ireland, Europe and our shared planet.
The Presidency of Ireland draws its strength and independent mandate from the direct vote of the people of Ireland. It represents Ireland - in all our strengths and vulnerabilities.
I appreciate the significance of the great honour the people of Ireland have placed upon me and I accept that mandate with humility, but also with determination and excitement. For I believe that there is so much we can achieve together over the next seven years.
A real Republic is one where every person is encouraged and supported to participate fully and where every person and community is treated with dignity and respect
This election shows that our journey is under way and that it includes all age categories, and, while led by young people, can be seen amongst all ages and in all the regions, urban and rural, women and men.
We are in a time of transformation and there is a momentum for empathy, compassion, inclusion and solidarity which must be recognised and celebrated.
A real republic is a life lived together and ‘together’ has been one of those words that has resonated throughout this campaign, as has another word - authenticity. Both are so important. People are interested in conversations and ideas that are sincere and constructive.
Words matter. Words can hurt. Words can heal. Words can empower. Words can divide.
The words and ideas I have used in this campaign reflect a vision for Ireland based on four strands:
- Equal and together;
- Strong sustainable communities;
- Sharing history, shaping the future; and
- Ireland’s voice matters.
I have also set out three implementing initiatives to reflect and give practical manifestation to these themes:
- Participation and Transformation;
- Samhlaíocht agus an Náisiún/Imagination and the Nation; and
- Shared Island, Shared Ireland.
The next seven years will offer opportunities to do things in new ways; including everybody.
That requires identifying and facing exclusions, and more than just eliminating barriers, it means the exercising of new invitations.
A real Republic is a Republic of equality, of shared vulnerabilities and of collective capacities.
A real Republic is one where every person is encouraged and supported to participate fully and where every person and community is treated with dignity and respect.
A real republic is one which constantly finds new ways to sustain, empower and strengthen our communities - supporting those who are thinking local and thinking long. People at home and abroad speak to me about the need to rebalance environment, economy and society - and the need to ensure that the new technologically-driven changes are harnessed in a way that has universal benefit; rather than creating new forms of inequality; that our shared future will be one of sustainability and decent work; a future that acknowledges a duty of care.
Our people want to see security in shelter, housing that can be a home, as part of a healthy community.
We are in a time of transformation and the Presidency, through its direct representation of, and direct conversation with, the people of Ireland, is an independent space where new ideas and possibilities can emerge.
The Presidency can bring together the different strands of our nation, past, present and future.
The coming years will see the commemoration of challenging, often difficult, periods of our history. This task will require sensitive thought, reflection and understanding - an ethics of memory and a narrative of hospitality, enabling different versions of shared events to be placed side by side, uncomfortable truths acknowledged.
But we must also face the future with inclusion and creativity.
For example, I would like to see the commemoration of the foundation of our democracy spark a debate about the values, na fiúntaisí, the principles required in today’s Ireland.
We will in 2019 celebrate the Democratic Programme of the First Dáil. We should use it to return to looking at our institutions and consider how they serve our values. How all people will participate in decision making in Ireland.
Over the next seven years, I will also represent your voice, Ireland’s voice, as we face challenges that are global - responding to climate change and sustainability, the challenge of global hunger in a way that is sustainable, Brexit, trade and a fragile multilateralism. The urgent need to end the scourge of violence against women cannot be deferred, but must be ended now.
I will, on your behalf, represent an Ireland committed to a peaceful world and a shared planet and together we will ensure that Ireland’s voice matters. I will continue to work for ever better relationships, North and South, East and West, with Europe and our multilateral institutions.
This is a time to be active rather than passive, and clear choices are opening up as to what will be the character of our Irishness. Will it be a commitment to inclusion and a shared world or a retreat to the misery of an extreme individualism?
The people have made a choice as to which version of Irishness they want reflected at home and abroad. It is the making of hope they wish to share rather than the experience of any exploitation of division or fear.
The version of Ireland which can best represent our people at home and abroad is one which draws on traditional genius and contemporary creativity, deep connections and new solidarities, respect and transformation.
The Presidency belongs not to any one person but to the people of Ireland. I will be a President for all the people, for those who voted for me and those who did not.
I am so proud of our country, I am proud to be a President for all of you and with all of you, and I look forward with joy and hope to all that we will achieve together.
Beidh se mar pribhléad dom, mo lán dhícheall a dhéanamh ar bhúr son mar Uachtarán na hÉireann.”