Higgins compares today's refugees with those who left Ireland during the Famine

President Higgins is on the third day of his week-long State visit to Australia.

sub President Higgins, addressing this mornings unveiling of a famine memorial in Subiaco, Perth Twitter / PresidentIRL Twitter / PresidentIRL / PresidentIRL

PRESIDENT MICHAEL D Higgins has compared the plight of modern-day refugees with that of those who were forced to flee Ireland during the Great Famine.

Speaking at the unveiling of a famine memorial at Subiaco, a suburb of Perth, this morning, the president made a direct comparison between those fleeing conflict in the Middle East and Africa at present with the estimated 1.5 million Irish who left these shores for good between 1845 and 1852.

“Can we, of Irish extraction, borrow from our own history when faced, as we are today, with the largest number of displaced people on the planet since the Second World War?” he said.

Is the plight of those risking everything to cross continents and seas in search of refuge or a better life so different from the choices that faced our own people?

The President added that, unlike in the mid-nineteenth century, the modern world has “the capacity to anticipate the threat of famine”.

“We have the capacity to take measures to avoid it, and yet we have almost a billion people living in conditions of extreme but avoidable hunger,” he said.

The President was speaking on the third day of an 16-day State visit to Australia. Later today, he will meet with Mark McGowan, the Premier of Western Australia.

In the coming days he will address the Parliament of Western Australia. The Australian visit concludes on 23 October, before the President embarks on a visit to neighbouring New Zealand.

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