Belfast Telegraph

1916 rebellion ideals should inspire understanding of others' pain, says Higgins

President Michael D Higgins has urged people to be inspired by the ideals of the 1916 rebellion.

In his Christmas message, Mr Higgins said it is heartening to see countless numbers of Irish people dedicating themselves at home and abroad to offer help, shelter and food to others in need.

And he said Ireland, as a migrant nation, is uniquely placed to understand the agony which has left 60 million people displaced around the world in the last year.

"Together, we can strengthen that web of solidarity that binds us as a people and as a global community next year," he said.

"As we prepare to commemorate the momentous events of a century ago that shaped the birth of our Republic, we are encouraged not only to recall those events, but also to re-imagine and take inspiration from the Republican ideals proclaimed almost a century ago.

"It is my sincere hope that those ideals can inspire each and every one of us on our shared journey where each step made by each citizen, in every generation, matters; a journey that we all make together, never alone."

Mr Higgins recalled the United Nations' figures which show one in every 122 people on the planet is a refugee, displaced or had been forced to leave their homes.

"Wars, conflict and persecution have forced more people to flee than at any other time since records began," he said.

President Higgins also praised the work of Irish NGOs, medics and the Defence Forces.

"How we treat the weakest among us is the finest test of us as a nation," he said.

Mr Higgins also said both he and his wife Sabina experienced and valued the warmth and friendship of people at home and abroad over the last year.

"And it is something we deeply appreciate. In villages and towns around the country and on working visits abroad we have had the privilege of witnessing the contribution to community and the public world made by Irish people in so many different ways," he said.

Extending wishes for a peaceful and happy Christmas and New Year, President Higgins said people could draw further inspiration for our own lives and times from the story of the nativity and a homeless Joseph and Mary.

"More than anything, the Christmas story gives us guidance on how to shape our own shared humanity with a regard for future generations.

"This year in particular, we welcome the acceptance of new obligations by nation states in relation to global poverty and climate change," he said.

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