Ireland is defined by its people and not its economic hardship, President Michael D Higgins said today.
In his Christmas message the President said it was the diverse and hardworking communities striving to help themselves that really made Ireland.
President Higgins: “As our economy has contracted in recent times, many people are feeling the consequences, in terms of employment or income. However, our economic condition does not, on its own, define who we are.
“We are, for example, a country with a network of communities, that are increasingly active in responding to their own, and their society’s, difficulties.
“We also have the resource of our scattered people around the world, who support each other, and who value their connection with their homeland.”
The President also recognised the difficulties being faced by some families because of rising unemployment, emigration and family bereavement.
He added: “Christmas provides an opportunity for us all to pause, reflect, and celebrate the things that we rightly cherish. It is a time when we, as citizens, as families, and as communities turn our minds to what is really important - family, friendship, neighbourliness and homecoming.
“At this time especially, those of us who are fortunate enough to have a joyous Christmas should be mindful of the need to reach out to others who – due to loss, emigration, illness or financial circumstances are going through a difficult time.”
Special recognition was given to the emergency crews, Gardaí, prison officers, Defence forces and medical staff who would be provided essential services over the Christmas period.
President Higgins said: “I thank all these public service personnel for their dedicated service to our community.
“There is much to be proud of, and much to build on, as we prepare for the New Year and look forward with hope and courage to realising all the possibilities that it presents.
“May I wish all the Irish at home and abroad, and those who live and work with them, a very happy and peaceful Christmas and a New Year full of promise, health and fulfilment.”