Sunday 22 January 2017

President Michael D Higgins: It's quite possible the world is about to shift in a very dangerous direction

Published 16/10/2016 | 13:35

President Michael D Higgins. Picture: Frank McGrath
President Michael D Higgins. Picture: Frank McGrath

President Michael D Higgins has warned it is “quite possible” that the world is about to shift in a very dangerous direction.

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Mr Higgins, discussing themes such as the rise of Donald Trump and Brexit, has spoken about exploitation of “the politics of fear” during times of economic hardship.

“I think between 2008 and 2011 the number in poverty in the United States went from 11pc to just under 15pc.

“So you either lift them out of that, or you do the other thing.

“And that is you seek to exploit it in a politics of fear,” he said, speaking today as the first guest on Agenda, TV3’s new show with David McWilliams.

 “And, we see the politics of fear in the demagoguery of the United States.

“We see the politics of fear equally in relation to the anti-immigrant, the anti-refugee thinking that is going on in so many European countries,” he added.

“The choice is between the politics of fear and the politics of integration, in very much a fractured world,” he said.

Mr Higgins was on the programme to discuss some of the big themes in his new book When Ideas Matter, including the plight of refugees.

He said he remained optimistic and people were open to new ideas about economies which are logical and measurable. But he warned there was a danger of the world going the other way.

“It’s capable of giving us the nightmare that we had, that gave us fascism and racism,” he said.

Asked by Mr McWilliams if he was worried the world would shift in a very dangerous direction in the next few years, Mr Higgins said:  “I think it is quite possible.”

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