CHARACTER, resilience, care and responsibility should form the foundations of a better society and economy, President Michael D Higgins has said.
In a special fireside Christmas message, Mr Higgins has expressed his wish that Ireland will move beyond a version of our society and economy "that has brought so much hardship and required so much sacrifice".
He also told how he "greatly looks forward" to his state visit to the UK in 2014.
Having devoted his attention over the past 12 months to what it means to be young and Irish, he will now focus on encouraging the widest possible discussion of ethics "in every aspect of our lives, nationally and globally".
Speaking from Aras an Uachtarain during the televised message, Mr Higgins offered his warmest wishes for Christmas and the New Year to all Irish people and particularly to emigrants abroad.
"Christmas is a season of homecoming. It is a time when we rekindle those embers of friendship and kinship that bring meaning, warmth and joy to our lives -- lives lived within communities," he reminded.
But at a time when "so many of us come together in fellowship", Mr Higgins said we should be mindful of those "who are in distress, alone or separated from a loved one".
Special thanks were given to the gardai, the Prison Service, hospital and emergency staff and members of the Defence Forces who are building or supporting peace abroad.
Christmas, said Mr Higgins, reminded us that "true hospitality endures and reaches beyond kin and one's own community; it extends to the stranger, the newcomer, the outsider".
"Christmas is a time to reflect on what binds us together, as members of the same family, as neighbours, as fellow-citizens and as human beings," he said.
"The message of Christmas, shared by many faiths, invites us to care for one another and to be -- in an ethical sense -- one another's keeper."
With his initiative for 2013 'Being Young and Irish' having borne fruit, Mr Higgins will now turn his focus towards encouraging the widest possible discussion of ethics in every aspect of our lives, nationally and globally, saying he hoped it would make a contribution towards moving beyond a version of our society and economy that has "brought so much hardship, required so much sacrifice".
"As a new year beckons, I am confident that Irish people will draw on the character and resilience they have so often shown to craft a vision of our shared Irishness that is defined by the values of care, solidarity, trust and responsibility," he said.