Reject greed and embrace hope, says Higgins
PRESIDENT Michael D Higgins yesterday told the country to hold out hope for the future and urged people to build "an Ireland we all feel part of, an Ireland we all feel proud of".
Mr Higgins also set out an ambitious vision for his "transformative" presidency which he hopes will encourage citizens to work together to build a "real and inclusive republic".
He said it is time for people to turn away from an individualism based on "purely material considerations" and move toward an "older wisdom".
Delivering his inaugural speech as the ninth president of Ireland, Mr Higgins outlined how his campaign themes of an inclusive citizenship, a real republic, a creative society and being proud as Irish in the world will carry into his seven-year term.
"My presidency will be a presidency of transformation, recognising and building on the many positive initiatives already under way in communities, in the economy and in individual and collective efforts throughout our land," he said at the Dublin Castle inauguration ceremony.
"It will be a presidency that celebrates all of our possibilities. It will seek to be of assistance and encouragement to investment and job creation, to innovation and original thinking -- a presidency of ideas -- recognising and open to new paradigms of thought and action.
"It will aspire to turn the best of ideas into living realities for all of our people, realising our limitless possibilities."
Mr Higgins said people "must seek to build together an active, inclusive citizenship; based on participation, equality, respect for all and the flowering of creativity in all its forms.
"A confident people is our hope, a people at ease with itself, a people that grasps the deep meaning of the proverb 'ni neart go cur le cheile' -- our strength lies in our common weal -- our social solidarity."
He said he entered Aras an Uachtarain with a "a sense of humility, but also with confidence in the great capacity of our people not only to transcend present difficulties but to realise all of the wonderful possibilities that I believe await us in the years ahead".
He also encouraged participation in the upcoming constitutional convention planned by the Government, and said he will hold presidential seminars.
Mr Higgins acknowledged a "decade of commemorations lies ahead", with the upcoming centenaries of the 1913 Lockout, the Easter Rising and the outbreak of World War I.
He said the next 10 years "will require us . . . to remain open to the making of reconciliation or to the acceptance of different versions of aspects and events of memory if required". Mr Higgins also vowed to be a president for "all of the Irish at home and abroad" and said we have been a "diasporic people for a great part of our history".
"We, in our time, must address the real circumstances that generate involuntary emigration, and resolve that in the years ahead we will strive with all our energy and intellect, with mind and heart, to create an Ireland which our young people do not feel they have to leave and to which our emigrants, or their children, may wish, in time, to return to work and live in dignity and prosperity."
He said it is time "to close the chapter on that which has failed, that which was not the best version of ourselves as a people, and open a new chapter based on a different version of our Irishness".
"I also realise the challenges that I face, that we face together, in closing a chapter that has left us fragile as an economy, but most of all wounded as a society, with unacceptable levels of unemployment, mortgage insecurity, collapsing property values and many broken expectations," he added.