Irish President Begins Second Term
On Oct. 26, Irish President Michael D. Higgins was elected for a second term by 56 percent of the popular vote. Higgins’ 822,566 votes is the highest yield in Irish history. The victory means that Higgins will serve as president for another seven years.
The inauguration ceremony was held on Sunday at Dublin Castle. The ceremony began with prayers from Christian, Jewish and Muslim religious representatives before Higgins was sworn in to his second term. Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and several ministers represented the government at the ceremony.
Higgins used his inaugural address to express his commitment to addressing a number of national and international issues — including inequality in health, education and housing, climate change, world poverty, violence against women, and racism. The president said he will support inclusion, diversity, equality, and women’s rights.
Higgins also praised Ireland’s youth, saying they are “moving past models of insatiable consumption and are forging different paths to personal and collective fulfillment.” He added that young people “rejected cynicism, have chosen political engagement in the public world and have chosen to be agents of ethical change, to make the possibilities of hope a reality.”
The president’s theme of inclusion was apparent throughout his speech. Higgins declared, “I will, I have emphasized, be a president for all the Irish people, wherever they may be and in whatever circumstance, those who supported me and those who were not among that number.”
Higgins expressed hope of maintaining a “positive relationship” with the UK through Brexit negotiations. His global focus and emphasis on diversity and inclusion stands in stark contrast to the sentiments that have accompanied the populist wave across Europe.