Towards a “Real Republic”…
Michael D Higgins, born 18 April 1941, the ninth President of Ireland
Our arts celebrate the people talking, singing, dancing and ultimately communing with each other. This is what James Connolly meant when he said that: “Ireland without her people means nothing to me”. Connolly took pride in the past but, of course, felt that those who excessively worshipped that past were sometimes seeking to escape from the struggle and challenge of the present. He believed that Ireland was a work in progress, a country still to be fully imagined and invented – and that the future was exhilarating precisely in the sense that it was not fully knowable, measurable.
The demands and the rewards of building a real and inclusive Republic in its fullest sense remains as a challenge for us all, but it is one we should embrace together.
Michael D Higgins is the newly elected ninth president of Ireland and, like many, I think he will do a fine fine job, I wish him well.
He has always been an outspoken man, a passionate socialist who has worked for the rights of the downtrodden, a human rights activist, a poet, a feminist, a philosopher, a fierce critic of irelands involvement in the illegal war in iraq (irish state was officially “neutral”, but that didnt stop the govt), a gaeilgoir (irish speaker), a lover of the arts and culture of Ireland, a man of imagination and deep vision. As Diarmaid Ferriter (professor of modern history at University College Dublin) said, it was striking that Ireland had elected a politician who for decades had been “a thorn in the side of the establishment” — and now was the official face of Ireland. He said Higgins’ triumph reflected voter anger at right-wing politicians who had brought Ireland to the brink of bankruptcy.
To many the somewhat surprising theme of the recent discourse he has opened up over the last year is that of the “Real Republic“, it seems this has been a topic he has pondered all his life and now he is taking it to the national stage, to get us Irish to think about what it means, if it has been arrived at yet (no in his opinion) and how we might get to that better place he dreams of. Before being inaugerated he spent some time alone to “pause and reflect” in the “Connolly Room” before taking office.
Its interesting to ponder where his preoccupation has arrived from; Despite the claim that he is a Galway man, he was actually born in Limerick, but due to poverty sent out aged 5 to do his “rearing” in county Clare… This led to a difficult childhood, which was as a direct result of his father being treated badly due to the fact that he fought for the republican side during the Irish civil war after having being number 2 in the Cork brigade of the IRA in the Irish war of independence. He wrote a poem 2o years ago “Betrayel” (listen to him read it here) discussing his fathers treatment in “modern Ireland” and spoke candidly, acocompanied hand in hand by his wife Sabina Coyne, on RTE’s Miriam meets (13.50 – 19.30 minutes) in 2010 about his feelings about the ill treatment his father suffered due to the vision of the “Republic” he fought for, temporarily created but that was killed off by the emergence of the Irish Free State. Its a complicated topic, there are many different takes on the topic, but one things should be very interesting; to see how this discourse unfolds over the following seven years.
Connolly's flag flown over GPO 1916
The 4 goals of Michael D’s seven year mission:
- The real republic
- Inclussive citizenship
- Creative society
- Ireland home and abroad
Irish Times: Higgins urges hope, courage | Vision of a new Ireland | A thinker unafraid to speak his mind | Full text of President’s inaugural speech | President will bring ‘nobility of spirit’ to office | Higgins declared president elect with one million votes | International congratulations for Higgins | Higgins pledges presidency of transformation in speech | Higgins’s archive speaks volumes for his passion Other Reports: Michael D Higgins inaugurated as President (RTE) | ‘We need to think about an entirely different kind of society’ (politico.ie) | A President for all the people (Irish Independent) | Michael D’s call to arms for a bright, confident and successful future (Irish Independent) | Poet, rights activist Michael Higgins wins Irish presidency (Associated Press) | The most passionate man in Irish politics (Hot Press 2004) Other Links: wikipedia | Facebook election page | Vincent Browne show: eve of Michael D’s inauguration Radio Interviews: Miriam Meets… Miriam O Callaghan with Michael D Higgins and his wife Sabina Coyne | Today FM’s Ray D’Arcy Show | Ryan Tubridy interviews Michael D Higgins Videos (see below) The Real Republic: Renewing the Republic: Michael D. Higgins’ book (view inside here on Amazon)| Republic lost its way, laments new Irish President (Belfast Telegraph) | Time for a real republic: President Michael D Higgins (Eolas Magazine) | Renewing the Republic (Irish Times series) | President calls for an inclusive republic (Irish Echo) | A Presidency With Enormous Potential (The Irish Republic-blog)
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