MICHAEL D HIGGINS has been elected as the ninth President of Ireland, securing more than one million votes.
Upon accepting the office this afternoon, Higgins first said a few words as Gaeilge, expressing his gratitude to the Labour party, to all those who supported his campaign, and to the more than one million Irish people who voted for him.
Higgins then thanked his “inspiration and partner”, Sabina Coyne, and his children for all they had done to help him throughout his campaign.
Vowing to be a President “for all the people”, Higgins said that he would no longer be a member of the Labour party, so that he could properly fulfill the mandate given to him. He said that he would also be a president to those who had chosen not to vote because they had lost faith in positions of public authority – and that he would work to regain their trust.
Higgins explained that, during his campaign, he had travelled across Ireland and “saw, and felt and feel, the pain of the Irish people” – saying that he recognised the “righteous anger” that existed around the country.
He said that, in voting for the ninth president, the people had made a choice about the “kind of Irishness” they wanted to embrace – and that they had chosen to leave behind the “narrow individualism” that had become a staple of the boom years in favour of ”a version of Irishness of which we can be proud”.
The version of Irishness that had been chosen was one which included “a powerful instinct for decency and the celebration of the power of the collective,” he said, adding that the country was involved in a period of transformation.
The necessary transformation of which I speak… is built on turning creative possibilities into living realities for all our people. And I believe – and this was the wonderful thing about going around the country so often – that that transformation has already begun.
Good people have commenced a journey to a version of Irishness of which we can be proud.
Speaking of those who had been forced to emigrate, Higgins said: “Always in my mind, too, are those who have gone away – I will be their president too”.
“I will work with head and heart on creating (a) future…we can all be proud of,” he said.