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Michael D Higgins hits out at racism and homophobia

The President said the problems can cause violence and even lead to suicide among young people.

Michael D Higgins at the USI Congress yesterday
Michael D Higgins at the USI Congress yesterday
Image: Conor McCabe Photography

PRESIDENT MICHAEL D Higgins has warned of the destructive power of homophobia and racism while addressing a gathering of students in Galway.

Higgins singled out prejudice as a major issue facing society today, saying that it could have a life-altering effect on young people.

He said people needed to “look inwards” and ask how these issues had gained a foothold. He told a meeting of the Union of Students in Ireland in Ballinasloe, Co Galway that racism and homophobia can:

wreak havoc in the lives of many young people and result in negative self-attributions, loneliness, isolation, exclusion, violence at the hand of others and often violent self-destruction itself.

But Higgins expressed confidence in the future, saying:

I have every confidence that we can, by facing these issues, and working together, combat these and other poisonous prejudices, and that a new Ireland will emerge from that solidarity.

Higgins hailed the tradition of university activism and said he himself had led protest marches while a student in the Sixties.

I myself led a march of 600 students in 1965 to protest about landladies who discriminated against students in the summer period.

He said the issues facing protesters had changed since then, but the “desire to effect change” among young people was “fundamentally the same”.

More: ‘Disgraceful’: Students slate senior academics’ refusal to take pay cut>

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Michael Freeman

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