President Michael D Higgins and the “Real Irish Republic”

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.

Renewing the RepublicIts 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

Related Links:

Irish Times: Higgins urges hope, courage | Vision of a new IrelandA thinker unafraid to speak his mindFull 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’ ( | 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 CoyneToday 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)

Profile: President Michael D Higgins

Born: Limerick (18 April 1941)

– Ballycare National School, County Clare
– St Flannan’s College, Ennis
– Clerk in ESB
– Mature student at University College Galway (aged 20)

Academic career:
– Political science and sociology lecturer at University
– College Galway
– Visiting Professor at the Southern Illinois University

Political career:
– President of University College Galway Students’ Union (1964 to 1965)
– Unsuccessful in 1969 and 1973 general elections
– Appointed to the Seanad by Taoiseach Liam Cosgrave (1973-1977) and re-joined on NUI Maynooth panel (1982-1987)
– Galway county councillor (1974-1993)
– Mayor of Galway (1982-1983 and 1991-1992)
– Galway West TD (1981-1982 and 1987-2011)
– Minister for Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht (1993-1997)
– President of Labour Party

This Image from the Times gives you a good idea of what the poet is talking about:

RTE: Here is a graphic from Irish Political Maps showing the first preference votes for Michael D Higgins


President Elect Michael D Higgins Acceptance Speech

Michael D Higgins making his last speech in the Dail (25 January 2011, transcript on

Michael D Higgins Speech to Tom Johnson Summer School (Pt 1/6)

And a few funnies:

Gift Grub: Tonight with Vincent Browne – Marty and Michael D (25/10/11)

Remembering the man and his long struggle for a fairer world:

Michael D Higgins Career Montage

Michael D Higgins through the years

The New Irish President: Michael D Higgins

(a series of photos, arts, peace prizes, poetry reading at electric picnic, speaking up against the illegal war in Iraq, hunger strike against US intervention in Niceragua)

Michael D returns over the gate to his old home in East Clare, where he lived since he was 5, part of his “fractured life”


From the archives of January 2010, Miriam O Callaghan interviews Michael D Higgins, now President-elect,  and his wife Sabina Coyne, the two held hands throughout a radio interview with her in 2010. Miriam Meets

  Miriam Meets… Miriam O Callaghan interviews Michael D Higgins, now President-elect, and his wife Sabina Coyne

13.50 – 19.30 on michael his childhood, his fathers situation…

His father Johhny Higgins (died 1964) was 1 of 1o, in the early 1920´s was the number 2 in the Cork brigade of the IRA (Irish Republican Army). He fought in the war of independence and on the republican side in the civil war, due to being on the loosing side of the war he was ill treated long after and Michael has thought much on that over the last few decades. Due to poverty Michael D and his little brother were sent from the family home, then in Limerick, across the Shannon to a little shack in East Clare, he was only 5 years old at the time, to live in with his fathers brother and sister. Michael´s uncle fought on the free state side during the war, his sister was in cumman na mban, Michael recalls seeing a blue shirt in the house (the symbol of the free state army). His mother was from Liscarrol, county Cork. Michale D was inspired by Sean O’Casey, and talks about “a fractured life”. Michael D claims that new state stole the values from people like his parents, that people are revising history and not recognizing what the original values of “republicans” battled for, not acknoldging what people went through…

The Betrayal

Remembering his father:

Michael D Higgins wrote a book of poetry in 1990 called “The Betrayal“, Poetry reading and commentry on his fathers life. Here is an audio recording of Michael D reading from it:

Michael D Higgins, the lost interview:

About two years ago, I interviewed Michael D Higgins in his home about his poetry and got him to read a couple of my favourites. I stumbled across the recording again today and decided to upload it to youtube. The first video starts with a poem called The Betrayal, about his father’s death and is followed by him speaking about writing the poem and then introducing another poem about the Galway Races which is in part 2 of the video.

A few photos of the aul fellow:

Strike on Here – Equal pay for women and men, early 70’s ?

Michael D fasting in front of US embassy for Nicaragua, 1983

Michael D opposing Irelands involvement in the Iraq war, 2004

Michael D Higgins, left, and his wife Sabina react after he won in the first count in the election to be next President of Ireland at Dublin Castle, Ireland, Friday, Oct. 28, 2011. (AP Photo/Peter Morrison)
Michael D and Sabina, 40 years on, still holding hands, still passionate
Michael D Higgins, left, and his wife Sabina react after he won in the first count in the election to be next President of Ireland at Dublin Castle, Ireland, Friday, Oct. 28, 2011. (AP Photo/Peter Morrison)

42 Responses to President Michael D Higgins and the “Real Irish Republic”

  1. fuspey says:

    New and Selected Poems – Michael D

    This collection of poetry honours Michael D’s life and loves as well as the lessons he has learned. Introductory passages offer a unique insight into the experiences that shape a poet’s work, with a foreword from Abbot Mark Patrick Hederman OSB also featured. New and Selected Poems is more than an ordinary poetry collection. With an introductory prose piece before each five sections, Michael D invites the reader into the mind of a poet and brings each poem to life by revealing some of the events that inspired and influenced. Tracing his life from his Early Days when he (aged five) and his brother were sent to live with an aunt and uncle, through to his migration to Galway in Of Rural Realities, these wonderful stories shape his poems. Michael D’s life is laid out raw and honest: the changes in his family life from childhood; his entry into politics, public life, and world affairs; and the appreciation, importance, enjoyment, and loss of friendship. These are his own reflections on a rich and varied life as he casts a wry but compassionate eye on human weakness and resilience, and the centrality of love for all human relationships. New and Selected Poems is a treasury of the very best of his writing over the years and is sure to enthrall younger readers as well as his established followers. Featuring acclaimed poems such as The betrayal from The Betrayal, Brothers from Season of Fire, and An Arid Season’s Ass, New and Selected Poems also reveals among other new poems, Michael D’s latest including Of Possibility, The Truth of Poetry, and The Poisoning.

    look inside his book: New and Selected Poems

  2. fuspey says:

    Renewing the Republic (Look inside)

    Renewing the Republic is the latest offering from author, social commentator, poet and politician Michael D. Higgins. Following the hugely successful Causes for Concern, Renewing the Republic spans the Presidential candidate’s academic and political career through new and old essays as well as some of his best speeches, including his final speech to the Dáil which has amassed over 10,000 YouTube hits. Michael D. Higgins’ vision as part of his Presidential election campaign was ‘of [an] inclusive citizenship in a creative society, as we build a real Republic that makes us proud to be Irish in the world’. Renewing the Republic is an expansion of that vision as Michael D. lays out, through a series of essays and speeches, the ideals and philosophies by which this is possible. This collection of essays include Michael D.’s reasons for running for the Irish presidency; his academic essays on a variety of subjects, including the peasantry in Ireland and public representation; his thoughts on recent social and political changes and the current economic crisis. His speech at the Tom Johnson Summer School, highlighting his commitment to the arts in Ireland, and his last speech to the Dáil on 25th January 2011 also feature. This rich and varied compilation explores six themes: citizenship and the republic; culture, identity and reputation; human rights; language; globalisation, emigration and exile; and the public space.

  3. fuspey says:

    ‘Intellectual crisis’ concerns Higgins

    Decades of Keynesianism, he said, have given way to decades of unrestrained market dominance.

    “A new dominant paradigm emerged. That paradigm has consequences for all institutions including universities. It is a paradigm that makes assumptions and demands as to the connection between scholarship, politics, economy and society,” he said.

    “It has fed off and encouraged, I suggest, an individualism without responsibility. It not only asserts a rationality for markets, but in policy terms has delivered markets without regulation.”

  4. fuspey says:

    Full text of President’s speech

    Full text of the address by President Michael D Higgins on receipt of Doctorate of Laws (Honoris Causa) from National University of Ireland at the conferring ceremony in Dublin Castle :

  5. fuspey says:

    Ard-Fheis Nov 2011 – Brian Leeson

    November 26 saw Ard-Fheis éirígí take place in Dublin. In the Cathaoirleach’s address, Brian Leeson looked back on the local elections in the Six Counties and the state visit of Elizabeth Windsor. He then went on to talk about the current state of republicanism and the socio-economic crisis that is gripping all parts of Ireland.

    related article:

  6. fuspey says:

    Bernadette (Devlin) McAliskey on Republicanism

    Bernadette McAliskey – James Connolly commemoration

    Veteran civil rights activist and socialist republican Bernadette McAliskey speaks at éirígí’s James Connolly commemoration in Arbour Hill, Dublin, 12 May 2007. In this clip she talks about the nature of republican and socialist ideologies.

    *** New documentary about Bernadette (Devlin) McAliskey on TG4:

    a 3 hour documentary about Bernadette McAliskey, the socialist republican activist who is pr…obably best known for punching Reginald Maudling, the Secretary of State in the House of Commons after he said the British army had acted in self defense when they shot 13 people dead in Derry the previous day on Bloody Sunday. (BTW its on the Irish language channel but the bits in Irish are subtitled into English).,AAABLI1nnlk~,0ZsOdcYbRQ-k3qPdG61OnjTN6_E5MMZZ&bclid=1315636896001&bctid=1424511324001

    or in DOCUMENTARTY section at

  7. fuspey says:

    President Higgins to visit Britain – The Irish Times – Thu, Feb 09, 2012

    President Michael D Higgins will go to London later this month. The two-day trip to the British capital will begin on Tuesday, February 21st. His final event will be to attend a performance of Juno and the Paycock, involving the Abbey Theatre and the National Theatre of Great Britain, an irish play in england exploring issues of irish republicanism and socialism, fitting, as thees area exactly the issues Michael D Higgins is generating a discussion about, at home and abraod…

    times –

    juno –

  8. fuspey says:

    Higgins’s remarks on treaty alarm Ministers
    The Irish Times – Saturday, February 25, 2012

    REMARKS MADE by President Michael D Higgins during a visit to London during the week have caused alarm in the Government, The Irish Times has learned.

    The primary concern among Cabinet Ministers relates to the President’s comments about the possibility of summoning the Council of State if the Government proceeds to ratify the fiscal compact treaty by legislation rather than referendum.

    “My consideration is as to whether there is an issue of constitutional significance raised,” said Mr Higgins, adding that if there was, he would call a meeting of the Council of State.

  9. fuspey says:

    We got a new president and hes a great man….

  10. fuspey says:

    never knew mickey d was in ennistymons finest, the stunning, for a spell…

  11. fuspey says:

    Statement to mark the centenary of the establishment of the Irish Labour Party

    from website of- Office of The President

  12. fuspey says:

    Remarks at the unveiling ceremony of the commemorative sculpture of The 1911 Lockout

    Presidentofireland on youtube

  13. fuspey says:

    President Michael D Higgins meets football fans in Poznan yesterday following the first-round Irish defeat the night before to Croatia at the Miejski Stadium.

  14. fuspey says:

    classic stuff from Mikey D…

    Higgins Tea Party smackdown goes viral

    A two-year-old YouTube clip, of President Michael D Higgins debating with a US conservative talkshow host and Tea Party advocate has gone viral.

    The clip has been viewed approximately 200,000 times (a few hours later and its at 633,219) in the past 48 hours and Mr Higgins is garnering much positive reaction from US-based users of social media sites.

    In the 2010 Newstalk radio clip, the then Labour TD Michael D Higgins tells talkshow host Michael Graham to “be proud to be a decent American rather than being just a w**ker whipping up fear”.

    vid: Michael D Higgins v Michael Graham

    From May 2010, an exchange between Michael D Higgins (who was elected President of Ireland last year) and Tea Party-loving radio guy Michael Graham on Irish radio.


    Reaction to Higgins versus Graham

  15. fuspey says:

    We ourselves are fit to make a new republic

    THE MOST radical and effective thing ever done by Irish nationalists did not involve shooting anyone. Seventy-three people declined to get on a boat to England. They had been elected to the Westminster parliament in 1918 on a Sinn Féin manifesto that promised to withdraw “the Irish representation from the British parliament” and to establish instead a “constituent assembly comprising persons chosen by Irish constituencies”.

    They did as they promised – and met in Dublin as the first Dáil. In doing so, they created a new democratic reality.

  16. fuspey says:

    We must seize Tricolour back from thugs

    500 at Dublin funeral of murdered Real IRA man

    Paramilitaries turn out for burial of Alan Ryan, who was shot dead in Dublin on Monday

    Primetime , The Alan Ryan Murder .

  17. fuspey says:

    PRESIDENT Michael D Higgins is to begin an official two-week visit to South America later today.

    The President will meet with the presidents of Brazil, Chile and Argentina in a bid to reinforce Ireland’s relations with the countries.

  18. fuspey says:

    A year in the Áras: ‘I’m not inventing a different version of Michael D Higgins’

    … Remember, my father and my two uncles were in the War of Independence. My father was on the republican side and spent 1923 in Newbridge prison, on the Curragh, and my uncle was on the Free State side in Renmore Barracks. They never talked about it. But I think if we are to talk things through, we are talking about a parity of revisionism, where the revisionism is not just a case of such a self-examination by one side as will make them amenable to the other. It is about both sides facing the task of a self-interrogation of history.

    The 1913 Lockout, the role of the tenements, O’Casey and, also, both the adequacies and inadequacies of nationalism: that has to be faced. In addition to that, the different response of the church. Was it the role of the church to suggest a fatalism to the poorest of the poor? Or was it the function of the church to compare them to the Gallilean carpenter, as the odd one did?

    Higgins wants to extend boundaries of presidency

  19. fuspey says:

    What kind of a country is this?

    THERE IS, IN THE approach to the centenary of the 1916 Rising, a concern with how the declaration of the republic is to be remembered and commemorated. But in fact what characterises the Irish republic is much more the act of forgetting it. At least three times the republic has been declared and then allowed to slip from the national consciousness.

    Amnesia, as the French thinker Ernest Renan suggested in 1882, is essential to the foundation of nations. “Forgetfulness, and I shall even say historical error, form an essential factor in the creation of a nation.” What must be forgotten? The “deeds of violence that have taken place at the commencement of all political formations . . . Unity is ever achieved by brutality.” A nation is also based on a common forgetting of its inevitably mixed ethnic origins. “But the essence of a nation is that all its individual members should have many things in common; and also that all of them should hold many things in oblivion . . . It is good for all to know how to forget.”

    The Irish republic, though, is not quite like this. It is steeped in forgetting but in a most peculiar way. Renan’s amnesia is a creative act: nations found themselves on acts of forgetting. But the Irish republic goes much further: it forgets its foundation, time and again. And what it shoves to the back of its mind is not the circumstance of its creation but its own existence….

  20. fuspey says:

    Ireland and Britain must lay their over-lapping histories side-by-side and confront the lessons of the past, rather than indulging in ‘a state of amnesia’, President Michael D. Higgins has declared.

    Speaking in Liverpool tonight, Mr Higgins recounted the city’s links with Ireland built through the suffering of the 1.3m Irish people who fled hunger from Ireland during the Famine.

    “Often they left no surviving family behind to remember them,” said Mr Higgins, who gave the John Kennedy Lecture to the Institute of Irish Studies at the University of Liverpool.

    “These waves of desperate Irish people seeking survival were moving into urban spaces that had already experienced hostility and sectarianism,” he went on.

  21. fuspey says:

    Higgins calls for ‘independent thought’

    A new wave of “independent thought” and “emancipatory scholarship” is needed to deliver Ireland’s recovery, President Michael D Higgins has said.

    Speaking at his enrolment today as a member of the Royal Irish Academy, the President said public intellectuals faced “a moral choice – to be part of a passive consensus that accepts an insufficient and failed model of life and economy or to seek to recover the possibility of alternative futures”.

    Calling for “vision, foresight and bold strategies”, he said: “In our current times our intellectuals are required to be brave; to have the courage of their convictions and to defend their conclusions; to speak truth to power and false inevitabilities…

  22. fuspey says:

    St Patrick’s Day message from the President: ‘We remember especially our Irish community abroad’

    President Michael D Higgins says he is grateful to the diaspora ‘for their continued connection and contribution to the country so many of them still call home’

    Glaoch – The President’s Call

    At the President’s invitation, some of Ireland’s and the world’s renowned writers, musicians and singers, gather at the home of the President of Ireland to make a special programme dedicated to Irish people worldwide. Featuring Bono, Séamus Heaney and Christy Moore with music performances from Glen Hansard, Lisa Hannigan, Imelda May and The Script.

  23. fuspey says:

    The President “More Rolling Stones than the Beatles”

    Irish President Michael D. Higgins chats to Ryan Tubridy about the special programme Glaoch – The President’s Call, his plans for St. Patrick’s Day 2013 and about life as President of Ireland.

    Featuring a live performance of Peadar Ó Riada’s “Feabhra” by Martin Hayes & Dennis Cahill.

  24. fuspey says:

    current irish president Michael D Higgins has been developing a wider view of what republicanism means in the irish context…

    Higgins lays wreath in honour of 1916 Rising
    Ceremonies mark 97th anniversary of Irish rebellion

  25. fuspey says:

    President Higgins gets a standing ovation at the European Parliament | You can read his speech in full at the link below.

  26. fuspey says:

    micckey d visiting herself for a few days…

    Presidential visit to UK being given huge attention

    Presidential visit to UK being given huge attention Higgins’s visit is being given special marks of favour by Buckingham Palace
    Details of President Higgins state visit to Britain released

    Details of President Higgins state visit to Britain released President’s visit follows the successful visit of Queen Elizabeth to Ireland in 2011

    Two nations with a shared narrative

    Spirit of friendship and partnership has continued to grow between Ireland and Britain, writes President Michael D Higgins

  27. fuspey says:

    Michael D rockin’ in (the Dáil) the heart of the British empire…

    Michael D, Michael D
    up on his bikeledey…

    via The Saw Doctors

  28. fuspey says:

    Michael D Higgins: Ireland’s poet president
    Politician, sociologist and a strong critic of republican violence during the Troubles, Higgins is far from a figurehead leader

    Guardian UK: Henry McDonald, Ireland correspondent

  29. fuspey says:

    Ireland’s hidden colours : The English are mad. About dogs as well as flags. via @IrishTimes #UK #Ireland #flegs

    President to get the royal treatment at Windsor Castle via @IrishTimes #MickeyDanHerselfforTea

    President stresses benefits of closer links for both states in the future via @IrishTimes

    President says pain of past must be dealt with: #britain & #ireland via @IrishTimes #UK moving on

  30. fuspey says:

  31. fuspey says:

    It’s me, the ninth (tallest) president of Ireland. Parody (fictional) account.

  32. fuspey says:

    ‘A closeness and warmth that once seemed unachieveble’: Higgins’ address to Westminster
    In a speech to both Houses of Parliament, the President told members that Ireland and the UK “now look at each other through trusting eyes of mutual respect and shared commitments”.

    Here’s the full text of the speech:

    On the first day of this State Visit, I have been graciously and warmly
    welcomed by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth at Windsor Castle, and I have come to this place from a poignant and uplifting visit to Westminster Abbey. I am greatly honoured to be the first President of Ireland to address you in this distinguished Palace of Westminster.As a former parliamentarian, honoured to have spent twenty-five years as a member of Dáil Éireann, and a further decade serving in our Upper House, Seanad Éireann, it constitutes a very special privilege to be speaking today in a place that history has made synonymous with the principle of democratic governance and with respect for a political discourse that is both inclusive and pluralist.At the very foundation of British democracy is, of course, the Magna Carta which includes this powerful statement:“To no one will we sell, to no one will we deny or delay, right or
    justice.”Those beautiful and striking words have echoed down the centuries and remain the beating heart of the democratic tradition. Their resonance was felt immediately in Ireland through the Magna Carta Hiberniae – a version of the original charter reissued by the guardians of the young Henry III in November 1216.They are also words which echo with a particular significance when we have so recently seen the adverse consequences of a discourse that regards politics, society and the economy as somehow separate, each from the other; this is a divisive perspective which undermines the essential relationship between the citizen and the State. Today, as both our countries work to build sustainable economies and humane and flourishing societies, we would do well to recall the words of the Magna Carta and its challenge to embrace a concept of citizenship rooted in the principles of active participation, justice and freedom.Such a vision of citizenship is shared by our two peoples. It is here, in
    this historic building that, over the centuries, the will of the British
    people gradually found its full democratic voice. It is inspiring to stand
    in a place where, for more than a century, many hundreds of dedicated
    parliamentarians, in their different ways, represented the interests and aspirations of the Irish people.Next month marks the centenary of the passing of the Home Rule Act by the House of Commons – a landmark in our shared history. It was also here that the votes of Irish nationalist MPs in 1911 were instrumental in the passage of the Parliament Act, a critical step in the development of your parliamentary system.History was also made here in 1918 when the Irish electorate chose the
    first woman to be elected to this parliament – Constance Markiewicz – who, of course, chose not to take her Westminster seat but, rather, to represent her constituents in our independent parliament, the first Dáil Éireann. Constance’s sister, Eva Gore-Booth, who is buried in Hampstead, had been making, and would continue to make, her own distinctive contribution to history – not only in the Irish nationalist struggle, but as part of the suffragette and labour movements in Britain.Nearly 90 years earlier, the passage of the Catholic Emancipation Act of 1829 was secured by the leadership of our great Irish parliamentarian, Daniel O’Connell. O’Connell’s nationalism set no border to his concern for human rights; his advocacy also extended to causes and movements for justice around the world, including the struggle to end slavery. He was totally dedicated to seeking freedom, as he put it:

    “attained not by the effusion of human blood but by the constitutional combination of good and wise men.”

    While O’Connell may not have achieved that ambition during his own
    lifetime, it was such an idealism that served to guide and influence, so
    many years later, the achievement of the momentous Good Friday Agreement of 1998. That achievement was founded on the cornerstones of equality, justice and democratic partnership, and was a key milestone on the road to today’s warm, deep and enduring Irish-British friendship.

    Our two countries can take immense pride in the progress of the cause of peace in Northern Ireland. There is of course still a road to be travelled – the road of a lasting and creative reconciliation – and our two Governments have a shared responsibility to encourage and support those who need to complete the journey of making peace permanent and constructive.

    Mr Speaker, Lord Speaker:

    I stand here at a time when the relationship between our two islands has, as I have said, achieved a closeness and warmth that once seemed
    unachievable. The people of Ireland greatly cherish the political
    independence that was secured in 1922 – an independence which was fought for by my father and many of his generation. The pain and sacrifice associated with the advent of Irish independence inevitably cast its long shadow across our relations, causing us, in the words of the Irish MP Stephen Gwynn, to:

    “look at each other with doubtful eyes.”

    We acknowledge that past but, even more, we wholeheartedly welcome the considerable achievement of today’s reality – the mutual respect, friendship and cooperation which exists between our two countries. That benign reality was brought into sharp relief by the historic visit of Queen Elizabeth to Ireland three years ago. Her Majesty’s visit eloquently expressed how far we have come in understanding and respecting our differences, and it demonstrated that we could now look at each other through trusting eyes of mutual respect and shared commitments.

    The ties between us are now strong and resolute. Formidable flows of trade and investment across the Irish Sea confer mutual benefit on our two countries. In tourism, sport and culture, our people to people connections have never been as close or abundant.

    Generations of Irish emigrants have made their mark on the development of this country. As someone whose own siblings made their home here, I am very proud of the large Irish community that is represented in every walk of life in the United Kingdom. That community is the living heart in the evolving British-Irish relationship. I greatly cherish how the Irish in Britain have preserved and nurtured their culture and heritage while, at the same time, making a distinctive and valued contribution to the development of modern Britain.

    Mr Speaker, Lord Speaker:

    As both our islands enter periods of important centenaries we can and must, reflect on the ethical importance of respecting different, but deeply interwoven, narratives. Such reflection offers an opportunity to craft a bright future on the extensive common ground we share and, where we differ in matters of interpretation, to have respectful empathy for each other’s perspectives.

    This year the United Kingdom commemorates the First World War. In Ireland too, we remember the large number of our countrymen who entered the battlefields of Europe, never to return home. Amongst those was the Irish nationalist MP Tom Kettle who wrote that:

    “this tragedy of Europe may be and must be the prologue to the two
    reconciliations of which all statesmen have dreamed, the
    reconciliation of Protestant Ulster with Ireland, and the
    reconciliation of Ireland with Great Britain.”

    It is, I think, significant that Kettle refers to “this tragedy of Europe.”
    We must always remember that this brutal and tragic war laid the hand of death on every country in Europe.

    Kettle died as an Irish patriot, a British soldier and a true European. He understood that to be authentically Irish we must also embrace our European identity. It is an identification we proudly claim today, an identification we share with the United Kingdom, with whom we have sat around the negotiating table in Europe for over 40 years. We recognise that it has been in that European context of mutuality and interdependence that we took the most significant steps towards each other.

    Mr Speaker, Lord Speaker:

    I have been struck by the imposing canvases in this room, these depictions of the Battles of Trafalgar and Waterloo, painted by the Irishman Daniel Maclise. They call to mind another famous painting by this great artist that hangs in the National Gallery in Dublin. It depicts the 12th century marriage of Aoife, daughter of the King of Leinster, to Strongbow, the leader of the first Anglo-Norman force to arrive in Ireland. Those nuptials took place in the context of conflict and did not become a harbinger of harmony. Neither was there to be a marriage of hearts and minds between our two islands in the following centuries.

    Today, however, we have a fresh canvas on which to sketch our shared hopes and to advance our overlapping ambitions. What we now enjoy between Ireland and Britain is a friendly, co-operative partnership based on mutual respect, reciprocal benefit, and deep and indelible personal links that bind us together in cultural and social terms.

    In the final days of his life, the soldier and parliamentarian Tom Kettle
    dreamed of a new era of friendship between our two peoples – “Free, we are free to be your friend” – was how he put it in one of his poems.

    The journey of our shared British-Irish relationship towards that freedom has progressed from the doubting eyes of estrangement to the trusting eyes of partnership and, in recent years, to the welcoming eyes of friendship.

    I am conscious that I am in the company here of many distinguished
    parliamentarians who have made their own individual contributions to the journey we have travelled together. I acknowledge them and I salute them, as I acknowledge and salute all those who have selflessly worked to build concord between our peoples. I celebrate our warm friendship and I look forward with confidence to a future in which that friendship can grow even more resolute and more productive.

    Gur fada a ghabhfaidh pobail agus parlaimintí an dá oileán seo le chéile go síochánta, go séanmhar agus sa chairdeas buandlúite idir Éire agus an Bhreatain.

    [Long may our two peoples and their parliaments walk together in peace, prosperity and ever closer friendship between Ireland and Britain.]

    Thank you again for your kind welcome.

  33. fuspey says:

    RTE tv: The State Visit of President Higgins to the UK, vid coverage

  34. fuspey says:

    BBC coverage

    Channel 4
    Why Ireland will be watching as president meets Queen

    Peter Hain calls for NI Troubles amnesty
    – Peter Hain says prosecutions related to the Northern Ireland conflict should end, as Britain prepares for the first ever state visit to this country by an Irish head of state.

    + Protest, VIA BBC NI journalist
    Members of @Justice4the21 & Victor Barker of Omagh bomb families protest at Windsor #IrishStateVisit

  35. fuspey says:

    queens tweet, well not hers, but from the symbol of the queen, as gaeilge…

  36. fuspey says:

    class, was great to see both the reception given to @MikeyD and the Irish in England and also how well the Irish presented themselves, their ideas and dreams, both past and present… a truly important step for change..

    the full gig, for next few days from RTE player

    nice little vid from RTE

    The Auld Triangle | Ceiliúradh

    President Michael D Higgins Speech | Ceiliúradh

    joe o connor in the times:

    Older legacy fades by popular demand
    There’s no point in denying our troubled history, but culture has constructed a shelter from the storm, bringing people together in remrkable ways

    For those of us who were 1980s immigrants to London, The Pogues were more than a band. When they played live in Brixton, the atmosphere was more like a rally of unleashed hopes than a gig. Some of the group’s members were Irish, others English; several considered themselves both. The music drew from punk and the Irish tradition.

  37. fuspey says:

    President Michael D. Higgins talking about Utopianism, via EcoVillage Cloughjordan:

    Utopian Studies Symposium 2013, Welcoming comments: President of Ireland Michael D. Higgins

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