Wednesday 18 September 2019

Michael D. Higgins urges Irish people to embrace immigrants in Christmas address

President Michael D Higgins
President Michael D Higgins

Mícheál Ó Scannáil

Michael D. Higgins used the annual presidential Christmas address to plea with the Irish public to ensure that there is “room at the inn” for migrants seeking a better life.

Speaking at Áras an Uachtaráin, President Higgins said in his Christmas and New Year message, that we must be compassionate to those who travel here for refuge.

We must care for, he said, “our fellow citizens across the world who live in the dark shadows of conflict persecution, violence, injustice and poverty.”

“Hospitality is the great universal and unifying value that connects all of the faith systems and languages across the world,” he added.

“It is appropriate then, that we should respond to the changing pattern of migration into our country in a spirit of openness and hospitality, welcoming and supporting those who wish for a better life or simply a life free from fear.

“So as we leave behind the dark days of mid-winter and move towards a season of new beginnings and new possibilities, let us do so with a renewed commitment to social solidarity. Let us ensure that those who are vulnerable, in Ireland and across the world, do not walk alone but know that we are willing to travel beside them on their difficult journeys, their journeys of hope.

“As global citizens, we must never hesitate to raise our voice in union with all those who pursue a more just world, making new connections with each other and the vulnerable planet we all inhabit. We must also ensure there is room at the inn for those who, like Mary and Joseph 2,000 years ago, have undertaken long and difficult journeys in search of safety and a future of hope.”

President Higgins, who has begun his second term as president having won the October election, also urged the public to care for the most vulnerable Irish people. While he rejoiced in the “season of celebration and joy”, he asked that Irish people look after their compatriots who have found themselves without a home in the coming year.

“Christmas, recalling as it does the birth of Christ as an infant to his mother and father in the most humble of circumstances, insecure and facing flight, is a time to remember the vulnerabilities that should be shared, and addressed, by us all,” he said.

“In particular, vulnerabilities experienced by those who are at risk, excluded and so many for whom there is no place at the inn. In Ireland today, far too many of our people are missing the necessary securities of home.

“There are those who are concerned about their access to health services and education, for the right to voice their concerns and experience full participation in our republic.”

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