Higgins hails 'spirit of hope' in historic speech
IRELAND has survived the economic crash and has a "spirit of hope" in spite of recent setbacks, President Michael D Higgins said during a speech at the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in Costa Rica.
The Fine Gael and Labour Coalition and the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act were issues put to the President in a question and answer session afterwards. He admitted that lots of differences existed between the parties but it wasn't his responsibility to solve their differences for them.
He explained to the court yesterday that he was directly elected by the people and when a particular case arose of a woman dying while in medical care it is was his job to express the concerns of the electorate.
In his final speech of his official visit to Central America, Mr Higgins emphasised the importance of sustainable, ethical economic growth – a theme he has touched on many times during his trip.
Mr Higgins was the first ever European head of state to address the human rights court and his speech was described as a "masterclass" by judge Diego Garcia Sayan.
Mr Higgins also called for the replacement of the "unbridled speculation" prior to the crash of 2008 which caused so much "distress and hardship" for so many people.
War crimes and conflict were not the only issues that come under the remit of human rights, said Mr Higgins but those who "visit fraud upon the world" should be held accountable.
He told the court that Ireland had shown determination in its response to the economic crisis.
And he reflected on the human rights work of Sir Roger Casement, attributing the well-known phrase of "crimes against humanity" to the Irish activist. Daniel O'Connell was also praised by Mr Higgins for his work in abolishing slavery in Ireland.