THE financial crisis "is having a very painful impact on our citizens" and our young people need "hope and opportunities", said President Michael D Higgins in his final address in El Salvador.
The President spoke at an economic and trade lunch in El Salvador, where he once again emphasised the importance of sustainable development and warned against the dangers of speculation, especially "on property" which had "taken root" in Ireland.
He did, however, acknowledge that Ireland was emerging from the "worst of the crisis" and that our recovery was showing "encouraging signs".
Mr Higgins, who has a 30-year relationship with the Latin American country, also referred to Northern Ireland's peace process in his lunchtime address.
He told the room of business people, international ambassadors and politicians that Ireland "knows only too well how conflict leaves many painful wounds in it destructive wake".
The Irish peace process, he said, required "strong political will" and that the wounds endured "do not heal easily".
A positive development for Ireland to come from the visit is a partnership between the University of El Salvador and University College Cork.
The European Union-funded deal means students will be exchanged between the two academic institutions, and the President said he looked forward to welcoming the first Salvadoran student to Cork.
Earlier in the day, the President visited the tomb of the murdered Archbishop Romero, who was killed in the early days of the Salvadoran civil war.
Mr Higgins arrives in Costa Rica for the final leg of his Central American tour tonight.