President Higgins' message: 'Christmas is a moment of hope'

President Michael D Higgins has used his annual Christmas and New Year message to urge Ireland to "ensure there is room at the inn" for migrants "in search of safety and hope" and for Irish people "missing the necessary securities of home".

Mr Higgins, who was returned to office in a landslide result in October, emphasised people who are facing the major difficulties as he said Christmas is "a moment of hope and revival of hope" that should be embraced.

In a five-minute message, Mr Higgins said the coming days are a time of "celebration and joy" and that this should be at the forefront of people's minds.

However, he said it is equally important to remember those who are less fortunate in their lives and to protect them by "forging together a renewed sense of solidarity" among Irish people and "those interested in all things Irish, wherever they may be".

"Christmas is a moment of hope, and the revival of hope, a moment to find encouragement, even in the most difficult and trying of circumstances. Amidst the darkness of winter, it is a moment when we can seek to renew our sense of possibility for a future shared with others, one full of opportunity and endless potential. 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. 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... 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 taken long and difficult journeys in search of safety and a future of hope," he said.

Mr Higgins also used his speech to remind citizens that Christmas represents the end of "the dark days of winter" and the start of "a season of new beginnings and new possibilities".

Emphasising the need for social solidarity - both among Irish people and those from other countries - he added: "Let us ensure that all 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."

Mr Higgins was re-elected president of Ireland for a second term in October by a landslide first count vote of 55.8% in a six-person race.

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