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Friday 22 August 2014

We will all move on from this economic anger, says President

Nicola Anderson

Published 26/06/2014 | 02:30

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President Higgins and his wife Sabina as they meet with Claire Byrne with Gerry Scollan and their baby Patrick during a Ethics Garden party in Aras An Uachtarain. Photo: Maxwell's
President Higgins and his wife Sabina as they meet with Claire Byrne with Gerry Scollan and their baby Patrick during a Ethics Garden party in Aras An Uachtarain. Photo: Maxwell's
President Michael D. Higgins and his wife Sabina meet with Lorna Gold, Liz Evers and Michelle Hoctor all from Trocaire at a Garden Party with a focus on the theme of 'Ethics' held at Aras An Uachtarain yesterday.

IRISH people are "willing to move beyond anger and recrimination" following the economic collapse and want a new set of principles for living, President Michael D Higgins has said.

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He believes Irish people have been led to an "abrupt realisation" that the challenge of living together in a way that permits "human flourishing" cannot be delivered merely by "the operation of the market".

"I believe that our citizens are willing to move beyond anger and recrimination as a simple, unreflective response to recent difficulties," said President Higgins.

"They are eager to discuss a new set of principles by which they might represent and project their lives together, and with all those with whom we share our common and fragile planet."

The first gathering kickstarting the "garden party" season – which will see the President and wife Sabina welcome over 2,500 visitors to Aras an Uachtarain over the summer – was held under the auspices of the President of Ireland's Ethics Initiative, which Mr Higgins launched in November.

Representatives from community groups, charities, professional bodies, third level institutions and the media were amongst those in attendance yesterday at the event MC'd by broadcaster Claire Byrne.

The President said Ireland was emerging from a crisis that has not only economic but also "political, social, intellectual and moral ramifications".

Long celebrated as one of Ireland's leading intellectuals, the President has suggested that "unlearning" is the first step in the intellectual process towards devising these new principles.

In order to generate fresh-thinking, he said we need to "unlearn" some of the unquestioned assumptions about prosperity or the good life.

Generalised competition, unrestrained self-interest and ideas of measurable value have caused "so much damage," to our society, he claimed.

Meanwhile, the President revealed that Irish universities, Institutes of Technology and the Royal Irish Academy have responded to his challenge to invigorate a wide public debate on ethics and are to organise around 50 events in the coming year.

He recognised the difficulties involved in getting ethics "out of the ivory tower and the pulpit" and into the market square – but said that it is a reflection that "many Irish citizens have already undertaken."

Irish Independent

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