MAY I OFFER my best wishes for Christmas and the New Year to all the people of Ireland and to the members of the Irish family wherever they may be.
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 Christmas we have an opportunity to renew our appreciation of these gifts, gifts which we hope will sustain us through the coming year.
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.
We should be mindful too of those who maintain essential services during this time – our Gardaí, prison officers, Defence Forces, emergency services and medical staff. As President, I thank all these public service personnel for their dedicated service to our community.
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.
A major priority during my first year in office was to engage with, and listen to our young people. That engagement confirmed for me that our young people have a very positive vision for the future of Ireland, and are determined to make their contribution to positive change.
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. Possibilities such as Ireland’s seventh Presidency of the European Union which coincides with European Year of Citizens in 2013, and the opportunity that represents to renew the founding idealism of Europe – a Europe of citizens, of social solidarity, of cohesion, and of shared cultures.
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.
Beannachtaí na Nollag agus athbhliain faoi shláinte, faoi dhóchas agus faoi shéan dhíbh go léir.
Michael D. Higgins is the President of Ireland.