Sabina Higgins warns war between Russia and Ukraine will continue until leaders persuaded to negotiate

President’s wife, a long-time anti-war campaigner, outlined her views in a letter to The Irish Times

Sabina Higgins, the wife of President Michael D Higgins, has warned the war between Russia and Ukraine will continue until the leaders of both countries are persuaded to agree a ceasefire and enter negotiations.

In what may be seen by some as an unusual intervention, Ms Higgins, a long-time anti-war campaigner, outlined her views in a letter to The Irish Times.

She wrote in response to an editorial published on July 20th headlined: The Irish Times view on the war in Ukraine: escalating to stand still. It described how Russia had signalled an escalation in its war against Ukraine and said the approach of Russian president Vladimir Putin is to play a long game and suggested Western capitals should show “they too are in this for the long haul”.

Ms Higgins wrote that she was “disappointed and dismayed” the editorial “did not encourage any ceasefire negotiations that might lead towards a peace settlement”.


She added: “Until the world persuades President Putin of Russia and the President of Ukraine [Volodymyr Zelenskiy] to agree to a ceasefire and negotiations the long haul of terrible war will go on.

“How can there be any winner?” she said.

Ms Higgins outlined estimates of the tens of thousands of deaths and wrote: “Concerned people of the world anxious to live together in peace and sustainability must demand that this war be brought to an end so that lives are saved.”

She said that alternatively “the choice is to let the conflict go on, and the killing go on” with “civilians including children threatened with death, fear and destruction of their homes, schools, hospitals and basic services”.

The letter also includes the words of a first World War-era song entitled Turn Back O Man and Quit Thy Foolish Ways. Ms Higgins said the words of those who wrote it “speak to us across the century and surely are now even more relevant”.

She can separately be seen reciting the lyrics in a video used to promote the creation of an online anti-war poetry collection by the Smashing Times International Centre for the Arts and Equality.

The organisation’s website says the project is “a new initiative by our patron, Sabina Coyne Higgins”.

Questions were raised in 2014 during President Higgins’s first term about a visit made by Ms Higgins to peace activist Margaretta D’Arcy in Limerick Prison. Ms D’Arcy had been jailed for refusing to sign a bond to uphold the law and keep away from unauthorised zones at Shannon Airport.

Mr Higgins was asked at the time if he was satisfied the visit was appropriate. He said the issue “didn’t arise at all” and it was a “private and personal visit”.

Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn is a Political Correspondent at The Irish Times