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President Higgins speaks on Covid, events in the Middle East as part of National Famine Commemoration

Higgins called the famine a defining moment for Ireland, saying that it unleashed a “cataclysmic period” of Irish history

Image: Sam Boal

PRESIDENT MICHAEL D Higgins spoke at Glasnevin Cemetery today as part of the National Famine Commemoration 2021.

Higgins called the famine a defining moment for Ireland, saying that it unleashed a “cataclysmic period” of Irish history that must be acknowledged in its “fullness, horror, sadness and consequences.”

Higgins drew comparisons to the Covid-19 pandemic, saying that there is a need for a better “paradigm of existence” and that it could be achieved by all sectors of society working together for the common good.

The Covid pandemic has surely shown us that there is not only need for a better paradigm of existence, but that it is achievable with a harmonious, sustainable connection of economy, ecology and ethical society, all movements combined make a new force for a better world, one in which the private and public sectors are not pitted against each other, but where the great strengths of both are utilised for the betterment of the citizens and the delivery of universal services.

The President spoke on the impacts of the famine on the Irish diaspora throughout the world, and particularly in the US.

He called it the “single most defining factor” in the establishment of Irish-American culture, despite massive emmigration from Ireland to the US between 1815-1845.

“It is an identity that anchors an enduring bond between Ireland and the United States that not only those who claim Irish heritage, but all friends of Ireland, still value,” said Higgins.

Current events

Higgins also drew contrast to events ongoing in the Middle East, saying that Irish people are well able to understand the meaning of eviction from a country.

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“No people are better thus equipped to understand the impact of the term ‘eviction’ from this period than the Irish people and their friends in the United States or elsewhere, who are aware of the Irish experience.

“Irish people can understand so well the events that tragically are unfolding elsewhere, as I speak, in the Middle East.

“Evictions are provoking conflicts in States that are entitled to their security but who are violating the basic laws that are the tools of internationally-recognised protection against illegal eviction and destruction of homes of those whose rights should be acknowledged, and supported, by all in the international community.”

It comes as Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney is to address a United Nations Security Council meeting on the conflict between Hamas and Israel, and the impacts that it is having on those who live on the Gaza Strip.

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