PRESIDENT OF IRELAND Michael D. Higgins has issued a strong Christmas and New Year message, highlighting the plight of homelessness in the country and showing solidarity with refugees and displaced people.
Speaking from his home at Aras an Uachtarain in Phoenix Park, Dublin, President Higgins spoke of our shared failure to achieve world peace and our failure to protect those who will find this Christmas to be a “dark and difficult one”.
Drawing parallels with the story of the nativity and the birth of a child in a temporary home, the President expressed hope that the festive season would foster a renewed commitment to helping those who need it most.
"As we reflect on the story of Bethlehem let us recognise its resonance in our contemporary society, be inspired to answer its call to stand in human solidarity with those for whom, and for whatever reason, this Christmas will be a dark and difficult one," he said.
"This Christmas, once again, the burden of homelessness will overshadow the festive season for those deprived of a secure and permanent shelter.
"We are challenged, I suggest, to turn this time of celebration into a sustained commitment of awareness and care for those for whom each day is an act of survival.
"May I thank those who work so tirelessly to support those in our society who are vulnerable. I have been fortunate to meet with so many groups and volunteers who have shone, and continue to shine, a light of hope into the lives of some of our most marginalised people.
"Their work is an inspiring example and an uplifting reminder of the real will and capacity that exists among the people of Ireland, to re-imagine our society, and achieve an inclusive republic for all of our citizens.
"As we reach the end of 2017 and begin our journey into a new year, let us make it a shared journey, encompassing the needs of all."
While asking the people of Ireland to think on the plight of refugees and displaced people, the President concludes that he believes “Irish citizens across the world will stand with those who are suffering and that they will, as before, support those who are responding to these crises, and who are thus showing solidarity with the most vulnerable.”
This is the second year in a row that President Higgins has focused his Christmas and New Year message on refugees and the homeless.