Tuesday 27 September 2016

Sabina Higgins tells Irish people: beware of 'new form of capitalism' and the 'empires of greed'

Published 26/03/2016 | 16:17

Sabina Higgins
Sabina Higgins
Sabina Higgins, wife of president Michael D Higgins speaks at the graveside of Countess Constance Markievicz after a wreath laying ceremony on Saturday. Photo: Tony Gavin 26/3/2016
Sabina Higgins, wife of president Michael D Higgins arrives at the graveside of Countess Constance Markievicz fora wreath laying ceremony on Saturday. Photo: Tony Gavin 26/3/2016
Sabina Higgins, wife of president Michael D Higgins Places a wreath at the graveside of Countess Constance Markievicz during a ceremony on Saturday. Photo: Tony Gavin 26/3/2016
Crowds of spectators on Parnell Square watch President Michael D Higgins on a video screen during the wreath laying ceremony in The Garden of Remebrance on Saturday. Photo: Tony Gavin 26/3/2016
acting taoiseach Enda Kenny arrives to a guard of honour from the 28th Infantry Battalion from Donegal before the wreath laying ceremony in The Garden of Remebrance on Saturday. Photo: Tony Gavin 26/3/2016
President Michael D Higgins inspects the guard of honour from the 28th Infantry Battalion from Donegal before the wreath laying ceremony in The Garden of Remebrance on Saturday. Photo: Tony Gavin 26/3/2016
Sabina Higgins, wife of president Michael D Higgins speaks at the graveside of Countess Constance Markievicz after a wreath laying ceremony on Saturday. Photo: Tony Gavin 26/3/2016
Sabina Higgins, wife of president Michael D Higgins Places a wreath at the graveside of Countess Constance Markievicz during a ceremony on Saturday. Photo: Tony Gavin 26/3/2016
President Michael D Higgins arrives to a guard of honour from the 28th Infantry Battalion from Donegal before the wreath laying ceremony in The Garden of Remebrance on Saturday. Photo: Tony Gavin 26/3/2016
Crowds of spectators on Parnell Square watch President Michael D Higgins on a video screen during the wreath laying ceremony in The Garden of Remebrance on Saturday. Photo: Tony Gavin 26/3/2016
President Michael D Higgins inspects the guard of honour from the 28th Infantry Battalion from Donegal before the wreath laying ceremony in The Garden of Remebrance on Saturday. Photo: Tony Gavin 26/3/2016
President Michael D Higgins waves to the crowd after the wreath laying ceremony in The Garden of Remebrance on Saturday. Photo: Tony Gavin 26/3/2016
Acting taoiseach Enda Kenny greets President Michael D Higgins as he arrives to a guard of honour from the 28th Infantry Battalion from Donegal before the wreath laying ceremony in The Garden of Remebrance on Saturday. Photo: Tony Gavin 26/3/2016
President Michael D Higgins inspects the guard of honour from the 28th Infantry Battalion from Donegal before the wreath laying ceremony in The Garden of Remebrance on Saturday. Photo: Tony Gavin 26/3/2016
President Michael D Higgins arrives to inspect a guard of honour from the 28th Infantry Battalion from Donegal before the wreath laying ceremony in The Garden of Remebrance on Saturday. Photo: Tony Gavin 26/3/2016

Sabina Higgins, the wife of President Michael D Higgins, has used her key 1916 speech at the graveside of Countess Markievicz at Glasnevin Cemetery to warn the Irish people against “empires of greed”.

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In an emotion charged speech she railed against “a new form of capitalism” which she says is “even more powerful and less visible and less accountable” than the powers in existence 100 years ago.

In echoes of President Higgins severe critique of neoliberal capitalism in New York late last year, Ms. Higgins said she hoped people would become “inspired” and “enfired” by the heroes of 1916 to meet the challenges of our time.

Speaking at Glasnevin cemetery at the graveside of the heroes of 1916, Ms. Higgins described how “Connolly and Countess Constance Markievicz and others realised there was no hope for the workers unless they could break with [the] empire and they decided to strike for freedom to organise to have a revolution.”

She said: “They joined with Pearse and the others- and on Easter Sunday 100 years ago- they fought and the Irish Republic Proclamation was read outside the GPO and we had our foundational event of the country that we are now. “

She went on: “It is my hope that drawing from the endurance and vision of Countess Constance Markievicz and her sister Eva Gorth Booth, and all the other great women and men of their time whose stories we are only now getting to know about.

“That we will be inspired. And that their example will enfire us with enthusiasm so that we women and men in 2016 will meet the challenges of our time.

“Now 100 years later in this contemporary and globalised world there is a new form of capitalism,” she said. “And that seeks to undermine democracy itself.”

She added: “The empires of greed are even more powerful and less visible and less accountable. The challenges are only too clear as we see the suffering of our fellow men and women across the globe.”

Speaking to the small gathering by graves of the heroes of the 1916 rising, she also went on to address women’s inequality, climate change, conflict and poverty.

Earlier in her speech, Ms. Higgins also recalled how the first principal of the Citizen’s Army Constitution is the “avowal that the ownership of Ireland moral and material, is vested of right in the people of Ireland, and included the principles of equal rights and opportunities for the Irish people”.  Dressed in a bottle green coat and dress by Irish designer Helen McAlinden, and finished with a brown feather in her matching hat, Ms. Higgins laid a wreath at the grave of Countess Markievicz in a gentle rain yesterday afternoon.

Speaking about the 1916 leader, she described her as “a true revolutionary and seasoned activist, campaigner and public speaker.” She said: “Her’s was a radical life in the fullest sense.

Afterwards actress Anne Doyle read out a speech given by Countess Markievicz at the time.”

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