President Michael D Higgins has said he will use his presidency to encourage the widest possible discussion of ethics in an effort to move Ireland beyond a version of society that had brought so much hardship and sacrifice.
In his Christmas message delivered in both Irish and English, President Higgins spoke of the resilience and solidarity of the Irish people.
“During 2014 I will be encouraging the widest possible discussion of ethics in every aspect of our lives, nationally and globally.
This will, I hope, make a contribution towards moving beyond a version of our society and economy that has brought so much hardship, required so much sacrifice.”
He added: “As a new year beckons, I am confident that Irish people will draw on the character and resilience they have so often shown to craft a vision of our shared Irishness that is defined by the values of care, solidarity, trust and responsibility.”
President Higgins said he would continue to work and serve Irish people both at home and abroad and said he was greatly looking forward to his state visit to Britain next April.
It will be the first ever official state visit to Britain by an Irish president.
During his speech, available on YouTube, President Higgins offered his warmest wishes for Christmas and the new year to everyone in Ireland and emigrants abroad.
He said Christmas was a time when we rekindle embers of friendship and kinship that bring “meaning, warmth and joy to our lives”.
However, he said we should remember those who are in distress, alone or separated from a loved one.
President Higgins paid tribute to those who care for the community including the gardaí, the Prison Service, hospital and emergency staff and our Defence Forces who were building or supporting peace abroad.
In the year of The Gathering, he extended a warm welcome to the Irish diaspora and said Christmas reminds us that hospitality should reach beyond our own community.
“It extends to the stranger, the newcomer, the outsider. Christmas is a time to reflect on what binds us, as members of the same family, as neighbours, as fellow-citizens and as human beings.”
“The message of Christmas, shared by many faiths, invites us to care for one another and to be — in an ethical sense — one another’s keeper.”
He concluded by wishing everyone as Merry Christmas on behalf of himself and his wife Sabrina.
“May the joys of giving and receiving extend well beyond these precious few days spent in the company of those we love. Sabina and I wish you all a very Happy Christmas.”
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