St Patrick’s Day Message 2023 – President Michael D Higgins

Below are highlights from the message of President Higgins which contains a strong endorsement of inclusion and welcome at a time when xenophobia, racism and right-wing sentiment is emerging in Ireland  The full text of his message can be viewed here

Mar Uachtarán na hÉireann, may I send my warmest greetings and good wishes to our Irish family, and friends of Ireland, across the world, on this day of celebration of our national patron, Saint Patrick.

Whether we are Irish by birth or Irish by choice, we are all part of a rich and vibrant global community that is bound together by a shared love of life, a shared love of our national heritage, language and culture.  Today, as we gather to celebrate that spiritual culture and legacy that speaks so deeply to us of a common but complex past, we can draw a shared strength from recalling the inspirational teachings from the life of Saint Patrick, our national Patron Saint.

In these times of multiple interacting crises, human and natural, it is vital that we recognise the need for a solidarity that binds us together as humans, and acknowledge the responsibility we share for our vulnerable planet and for all those who dwell on it……

Over a year on from the invasion, the people of Ukraine, and all those ensnared in the more than 20 armed conflicts around the world, must remain foremost in our minds.  It is heartening to see the welcome that so many households and schools have extended here in Ireland and elsewhere, heartening to hear of all those who continue to provide sanctuary to the tens of thousands of displaced Ukrainian citizens who have fled conflict in their homeland…. Thank you.

…..Saint Patrick emerged from slavery, having been trafficked across the Irish Sea as a young man.  After six years he escaped, returning to his family and his studies in Britain.  Yet, in a remarkable display of resilience and generosity, he would later return to Ireland as a missionary….The story of his life as a migrant, we must never forget, is a reminder of the resilience and necessary courage of migrants, a reminder too of the contributions that they have made, and continue to make, to the countries they call home.…Today, as we recall the life of our patron saint, we can invoke his spirit in acknowledging our role as global citizens, opening our minds and hearts to our universal human family in all its complexity, circumstances and vulnerability…..

Basic human morality suggests that we must think in terms of the common good if we are to invoke or follow the path of Saint Patrick, recognizing that we bear a duty to stand in solidarity with all those across the globe who are vulnerable and in need, and do everything in our power to create an inclusive, just world where all humans, in all their diversity and circumstances, are treated with dignity, respect and justice.…we are required to respond to the ongoing, brutal reality of human trafficking and forced migration….  It is by doing that we can most fully embrace Patrick’s legacy and our own place and exercise our responsibilities in today’s world.

There are so many areas where we cannot continue to fail on such basic issues as global hunger and poverty.  …. During my recent visit to Senegal at which I addressed the Africa Food Summit, I emphasised that there is an urgent need to tackle not only poverty and hunger in Africa but to offer proper security on the basic necessities of life, delivering universal basic services such as education and healthcare, thus helping to create a lasting, sustainable future built on security in its most inclusive sense.

We have a moral and ethical responsibility to support our global family in dire need, to help with sustainable solutions to ending all famines, to provide a decisive response to climate change……It is such a tragic injustice that those nations suffering the greatest human and economic impact of climate change are those who were least responsible for the emissions that threaten their very existence.

The demand for collective action addressing our shared Earth’s climate emergency has never been greater. …On this day, let us pledge to work together, cooperating, so that we may confront the contemporary challenges facing our world, espousing some of the most essential values, such as kindness and compassion, embodied as they are in the story of Saint Patrick….

I wish you all a most enjoyable and peaceful Saint Patrick’s Day. Beannachtaí na Féile Pádraig oraibh uilig.

Michael D Higgins, President of Ireland


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