Imagine what our country might yet become as we look back to forefathers - President
Published 17/03/2016 | 02:30
The "real Republic" envisioned by our forefathers embracing freedom and equality for all is still within our grasp, President Michael D Higgins said in his St Patrick's Day address.
The President said we must "take the opportunity to imagine what Ireland might yet become" as we reflect back on the significant events over the past century.
Extending his wishes to Irish citizens and diaspora here and abroad on our national holiday, he noted the imminent centenary of the Easter Rising.
"We must ask ourselves how we might best use that freedom which was handed down to us by previous generations in such a way as will serve all of our people," he said.
"All of them were determined to achieve independence and to proclaim a free Republic with equal rights and opportunities for all its citizens."
He stressed that "the need for idealism remains" in spite of our long-standing commitment to upholding human rights and freedom from oppression around the globe.
He called upon the Irish people to take up the cause against poverty, hunger and climate change; and to "craft a human response to the ongoing refugee crisis".
"We can, in so many ways, continue the work of making Ireland the real Republic of which our founders dreamed," he said.
Speaking in a similar vein, Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland, Eamon Martin, urged people to consider the plight of both emigrants and refugees.
He said they faced enormous challenges in much the same way that St Patrick did as "the captive, the slave in exile, the undocumented, the migrant", which is "so shockingly exemplified by the refugee crisis here in Europe".