President says ‘radical’ solution needed to solve homelessness crisis

Michael D Higgins says ‘we can’t continue to accept things as they are’

President Michael D. Higgins sends Christmas wishes to all of the Irish at home and abroad in his annual address. Video: Áras an Uachtaráin

 

President Michael D Higgins said a “radical” solution was required to solve the State’s homelessness crisis as he appealed for a “renewed sense of social solidarity” in Ireland.

In his Christmas and New Year address on Friday, and in a pre-recorded radio interview, the President focused on the plight faced by those with nowhere to live.

“In Ireland today, far too many of our people are missing the necessary securities of home,” he said in his address. “There are those who are concerned for their access to health services and education, for the right to voice their concerns and experience full participation in our Republic.

“So, as we recall our shared vulnerabilities this Christmas, let us resolve to forge together a renewed sense of solidarity, one shaped to fit and encompass all our citizens.”

In an RTÉ interview due to be aired on Saturday, he said the issue was a source of disturbance and that a radical approach is now the only option.

“It grieves me to think about those who are homeless, those on the streets. We can’t continue to accept things as they are; I believe that we must do something radical,” he told Raidió na Gaeltachta’s Bláthnaid Ní Chofaigh.

Working Christmas

The President said he was facing into a working Christmas with 16 pieces of legislation to be signed between December 25th and 27th, but added that he was looking forward to spending time with his family.

He sent special thanks to Irish peacekeepers abroad and their families, and also acknowledged those for whom Christmas this year is overshadowed by circumstances.

“The story of Christmas is one of a baby born in Bethlehem who brought peace and joy to the world. Today many of our fellow citizens across the world live within the dark shadows of conflict, persecution, violence, injustice and poverty,” he said.

At home Mr Higgins remarked on the appropriateness of an Irish response to the changing pattern of migration “in a spirit of openness and hospitality, welcoming and supporting those who wish for a better life, or simply a life free from fear”.

“So as we leave behind the dark days of mid-winter, and move towards a season of new beginnings and new possibilities, let us do so with a renewed commitment to social solidarity,” he said. “Let us ensure that all those who are vulnerable, in Ireland and across the world, do not walk alone but know that we are willing to travel beside them on their difficult journeys.”