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President speaks of 'heartbreaking' unemployment and emigration on US trip

Michael D Higgins told Irish professionals working in the States that he hoped to some day see many of them return to Ireland in the future.

Image: Niall Carson/PA Wire/Press Association Images

PRESIDENT MICHAEL D Higgins has said that the return of unemployment and mass emigration in Ireland is heartbreaking in a speech in New York.

On the second day of his nearly week long trip to the United States, the President said that in the aftermath of the economic crisis there had been “a period of great strain and challenge”.

Speaking at the Irish Network New York Business Breakfast in the Big Apple yesterday, he said: “It is heartbreaking that Ireland and the Irish people are living again with the enormous social and economic challenges posed by unemployment and emigration.

Indeed, some of you know better than anybody the pain caused to young people and their families when the economic circumstances mean that opportunities are simply not available at home and you are compelled to make the important and life-changing decision to pursue a life abroad.

Higgins told the breakfast meeting of young Irish professionals that he hoped to someday see some of them return to Ireland and said that the country was “determined to fashion an economy and society which learns the lessons from past mistakes”.

While I am proud of what you are all doing here in the United States and how you are representing Ireland, I also look forward to the day when some, if not many of you, will return home to help in the task of transforming our Republic.

Higgins pointed to what he called “positive news on the economic front” pointing to figures from last year which indicated the economy had grown, the restructuring of the banking sector, new initiatives to boost job creation and the exceeding of targets in the bailout programme.

The President continues his US trip today as he attends a performance of the stage version of the Academy Award winning film Once. Tomorrow he meets with the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

On Friday he will travel to Boston, Massachusetts where he will meet with the mayor of the city and lead a famine commemoration event.

Read: Higgins kicks off first visit to the US in New York

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Hugh O'Connell

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