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Michael D Higgins' speech outlines his plans for the next seven years

President Michael D Higgins says he would focus on equality, togetherness and strong sustainable communities during his next term.

5565 Michael D_90557391 Source: Eamonn Farrell

People have made a choice as to which version of Irishness they prefer… I will be a President for all of the people.

MICHAEL D HIGGINS has been re-elected as President of Ireland, with a landslide vote of over 58%. 

In a packed out auditorium in Dublin Castle this evening, the returning president outlined his plans for the next seven years.

He said now is a “time of transformation” adding that there is a “momentum of empathy, compassion, inclusion and solidarity which must be recognised and celebrated”. 

Sharing his vision for Ireland, he said there were four strands he wanted to focus on in the coming years. 

But first, in what some are saying is a slight towards runner-up Peter Casey, he said: 

Words matter. Words hurt. Words heal. Words empower. Words can divide. 

Over the next seven years, Higgins wants to bring forward the ideas of equality and togetherness, strong sustainable communities, sharing history and shaping the future as well as championing that “Ireland’s voice matters.

There was loud applause for Higgins when he told the crowd that he wants to build a Republic of equality, where every person is encouraged and supported to participate fully in society, and where everyone is treated with dignity and respect. 

Mentioning the advent of technology he said he wants it harnessed in a way that is used for universal benefit, “rather than creating new forms of inequality”. 

Referencing the ongoing housing crisis, the president said Irish people “want to see security in shelter, housing that can be a home, as part of a healthy community”. 
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Higgins also spoke about the upcoming commemorations for Ireland, such as the civil war centenary. He said these were “difficult periods of our history”. 

“This task will require sensitive thought, reflection, and understanding – an ethics of memory and a narrative of hospitality, enabling different visions of shared events to be placed side by side, uncomfortable truths acknowledged.”

He also has plans for the 2019 celebration of the first sitting of the Dáil. This should be used to re-evaluate Irish institutions, he said. 

The president said he will also represent the Irish voice abroad, as “we face challenges that are global – responding to climate change and sustainability, the challenge of global hunger in a way that sustainable, Brexit, trade, and a fragile multilateralism. 

There was a rousing applause when he said:

“The urgent need to end the scrouge of violence against women cannot be deferred, but must be ended now.”

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He added that he will continue work for better relationships in the North and with Europe. 

Higgins said the presidency does not belong to one person, but to all the people of Ireland. 

“I will be a president for all the people, for those who voted for me and those who did not. I am so proud of our country, I am proud to be president for all of you and with all of you , and I look forward with joy and hope to all that we will achieve together.”

With that, Higgins returned to his wife Sabina’s side. The runner-up candidates then each took to the podium, giving short speeches (Peter Casey and Gavin Duffy) and some not so short (Seán Gallagher). 

With closing remarks from Taoiseach Leo Varadkar who commended all the candidates for having the courage to take a step forward and put their name on the ballot paper, it was a wrap. Before heading to the Michael D Higgins after-party in a nearby hotel, there was just enough time for a family photo of the Higgins family.

IMG_2952 The Higgins family Source: Christina Finn

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