Higgins delivers message of hope
Newly-elected President Michael D Higgins has sent Christmas wishes to Ireland's extended global family across the world.
The President said he has been honoured to serve the people of a country which he is confident will rebuild a sustainable and strong economy and a just and inclusive society.
In his Christmas message, Mr Higgins acknowledged the hard times being suffered by families, but was optimistic for the future.
"While we have nearly always tended to think of Christmas as a happy time as families come together to enjoy the festive season, I am also conscious that, for some of you, this year will be a Christmas where unemployment, financial insecurity or the absence of a loved one now living abroad will cast a dark shadow," he said.
"For many others, it will be a sad time due to illness or family bereavement.
"So these are troubling and testing times for so many but while acknowledging the hurt inflicted, the dismay caused by the mistakes that were made, I also believe that the Irish people have the resilience, the fortitude and the wisdom to move beyond any destructive cynicism and recrimination and have the capacity and determination to move on and craft a new positive form of their Irishness."
Mr Higgins, who is recovering from a knee operation, said he is inspired by the innovation and the resourcefulness that have come to the fore in the country's time of economic need.
He commended communities across the island who are renewing themselves in social solidarity through co-operation and together showing practical concern for each other and particularly for the less fortunate in this country and, indeed, throughout the world.
"While the wider global environment is worrying, we are seeing some positive results in our economic affairs," he continued.
"Our exports continue to grow; many of our companies have become more innovative and competitive; and direct inward investment is robust but the great challenge of creating jobs, reducing unemployment remains."