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President defends tough EU criticism

President Higgins insisted today he was operating within the Constitution when he publicly criticised how the EU is dealing with the economic crisis.

The president said he treated his role "very carefully" and that he remained conscious of constraints imposed upon the Head of State in making public declarations on current affairs.

President Higgins hit out at the policies of austerity being pursued within the EU and, in particular, the EU's failure to break the link between bank and sovereign state debt.

He said today he was seeking to protect the welfare of the Irish people.

He made his comments in defence of his public statements as he arrived at an event organised by the Frontline Defenders, which defends people living under repressive regimes who speak out for human rights.

President Higgins said: "I am very conscious of the Constitution and I take it very carefully.

"I suppose in addition to the text of the Constitution itself, you also have to bear in mind the oath I took upon taking office, which is 'Mo lan dhicheal a dheanamh ar son fonamh agus leasa Muintir na hEireann'," he said.

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