The Irish – UK State Visit

Michael D Higgin’s Irish State Visit To UK Marks A New High For Anglo Irish Relations by Annette J Dunlea

Michael Daniel Higgins is the ninth and current President of Ireland, having taken office on 11 November 2011, following victory in the 2011 Irish presidential election. Higgins is a politician, poet, sociologist, author and broadcaster. He is known as one of the country’s leading public intellectuals. Irish President Michael D Higgins has met the Queen on the first ever state visit to Britain by the country’s head of state. Mr Higgins and his wife Sabina met the monarch at Windsor Castle, three years after the Queen’s historic visit to Dublin. It heralded the start of a new chapter in the relationship between the two countries. The significance has been further deepened with the presence of Northern Ireland Deputy First Minister and former IRA commander Martin Mc Guinness, who attended a banquet hosted by the Queen, a move unthinkable only a decade ago. The streets of Windsor were decked out in Union flags and Irish Tricolours. After travelling to the Berkshire town from London with the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall, the president and his wife were met by the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh. He visited Westminster Abbey and Stratford-Upon-Avon, an addressed the joint Houses of Commons and Lords. He attended a state banquet hosted by the Queen, a lord mayor’s banquet and courtesy calls from all the political leaders. Despite the close cultural, linguistic and economic ties between the UK and the Republic of Ireland, no Irish president has ever visited Britain before. The significance of the President’s visit is further deepened by the invitation for him to stay at the Queen’s home, Windsor Castle, where a state banquet was held in his honour. Wounds between us festered for far too long. The president’s visit was another symbolic contribution to the healing process. He deserved the warm welcome he received just as the Queen enjoyed in Ireland. Mr Higgins said that progress in the Northern Ireland peace process should not be about forgetting the past. Mr Higgins spent four days on the extended visit as a guest of the queen, a sign he says is symbolic of the importance both countries place on the normalisation of relations more than 90 years after independence.

Relations between the two countries have never been closer. We have a common travel area, a peaceful Northern Ireland and enhanced trade and cultural ties. This is the long overdue respect that hasn’t been there over the decades. The Queen has been intimately involved in picking the schedule, just as she was for her own visit to Ireland two years ago. It was another key moment in the healing process. Michael D Higgins’s visit to London is another symbolic contribution to the two nations’ closer ties. It marked the final official act of reconciliation between the two countries in the aftermath of the peace process. The Queen’s visit to Ireland in 2011, the first by a reigning monarch for 100 years. It was a momentous occasion, intended to cement a new relationship of normality following the political settlement in Northern Ireland. Sinn Fein gave Mr Mc Guinness permission to attend. The intention was to send a message to everybody about how things have changed.

He went to Windsor to meet the Queen and Prince Philip. A military band played the Irish national anthem as Higgins and his wife Sabina were welcomed at the castle, while the streets of Windsor had Irish tricolours and Union flags stretching along its streets. After the guests were honoured with two separate gun salutes, the Queen and president entered the castle in the Australian State Coach, before President Higgins and Prince Philip inspected troops of the Queen’s Company, Grenadier Guards. Major Andrew Seddon, captain of the Queen’s Company Grenadier Guards, invited Mr Higgins to inspect the guard of honour, speaking to him in Irish. The Irish Guards was represented by their regimental band as the troops are currently on peacekeeping duties in Cyprus. Mr Higgins presented a new ceremonial red coat to its regimental mascot, an Irish wolfhound called Domhnall of Shantamon. Colour Sergeant Frankie Whelan was at the castle. He said today was a proud day for soldiers from the Republic, adding: ‘I’m very proud today for all Irish soldiers, whether they be in the Irish Guards or Irish Regiment. President Higgins focused on the contribution Irish emigrants have made to UK life. The theme of the state visit was on the two countries’ shared histories.

During the decades of the Northern Irish Troubles, the two governments of the two countries had an uneasy relationship as they worked together to bring peace. However, the tide started to turn in the late 1990s, thanks to the good working relationship between Tony Blair and his Irish counterpart Bertie Ahern. In May 2011, the Queen visited the Republic of Ireland for the first time as the guest of then-president Mary Mc Aleese. During her visit, the monarch shook hands with former IRA commander Martin Mc Guinness, gave a speech which included a few words of Irish and shared jokes with members of the local community. Michael D. Higgins’ current trip to Britain is seen as a reciprocal visit, sealing the warm relations between the two countries. Addressing her guests the Queen said it is important the Britain supports Ireland’s First and Deputy First Ministers, Peter Robinson and Martin Mc Guinness, to establish a shared society based on a mutual respect and equal opportunity. She said the goal of the modern British Irish relationship is that both countries should ‘live together as respectful friends’, ‘co-operating for the mutual benefit, at ease with each other’.’We are walking together to a better, more stable future,’ the Queen said. ‘We remember our past but no longer will we let our past ensnare our future. That is the greatest gift we can give succeeding generations.’

Speaking to MPs President Higgins said: ‘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,’ he said.’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.’President Higgins paid tribute to the UK Parliament for being synonymous with the principle of democracy and used his address to urge politicians to look at the foundation of parliamentary democracy in Britain for inspiration, referencing the Magna Carta and its significance for modern nations. He said politics, society and the economy cause division between the citizen and the state when they are treated as separate entities and he urged politicians to remember that citizenship should be rooted in the principles of active participation, justice and freedom.’Such a vision of citizenship is shared by our two peoples,’ the President said. It was fitting that President Michael D Higgins took the opportunity to acknowledge the contribution of Irish parliamentarians to the cause of Irish freedom, and also to the contribution generations of Irish emigrants have made to the development of Britain

He acknowledged that the fight for Irish independence, which his father took part in, which cast a long shadow over Anglo-Irish relations but also noted how ties across the Irish Sea are now stronger than ever.’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,’ he said.’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. President Higgins also addressed both houses of Britain’s Parliament, another first for an Irish head of state. He expressed his pride that the large Irish community was represented in every walk of life in the country.“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. The speaker of the Commons John Bercow took a similar theme, saying that real substance was wrapped in the symbolism of the President’s visit. He added that, contrary to Yeats’s view, “the centre has held” in our time, and this had made possible the new relations between the two countries.

This was unthinkable 20 years ago. On the issue of the 1916 centenary, the Taoiseach said it should be possible for members of the British royal family to visit Dublin during the commemorations. He said it would be another event in the continuing closeness between both countries. Meanwhile, Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Eamon Gilmore has said relations between Ireland and Britain are better than they have ever been. Speaking on Sky News, Mr Gilmore said there was an enormous volume of trade between the two countries, amounting to about €1 billion every week. He said Britain is Ireland’s largest market and Ireland is Britain’s fifth largest market.

Michael D Higgins: “The relationship between our two islands has achieved a closeness and warmth that once seemed unachievable. He acknowledged that there were “a lot of very difficult memories” and that it would be wrong to “wipe the slate clean. He said this country has a deep and enduring friendship with Britain. He said both countries could take “immense pride” in their work towards peace in Northern Ireland. He noted there was “still a road to be travelled” to reach lasting peace. He stated that “Ireland and Britain live in both the shadow and in the shelter of one another, and so it has been since the dawn of history.”We celebrate what has been achieved but we must also constantly renew our commitment to a process that requires vigilance and care.”The Queen Herself changed Irish history entirely three years ago”, when the Queen laid a wreath at a memorial to those who died fighting for Ireland’s independence. The Queen said it best: ‘We will remember our past, but we shall no longer allow our past to ensnare our future’.Then came the bombshell, but a good one. The Queen said that as the two nations “enter a period of historical resonance, it is right to look back in remembrance”.She added: “People from Ireland were involved in all the major campaigns and battles of the war. We will remember and honour their contribution and sacrifice, just as we remember our own.”My family and my government will stand alongside you, Mr President, and your ministers, throughout the anniversaries of the war and of the events that led to the creation of the Irish Free State.”The Queen acknowledged the contribution made by Irish people in Britain.”Britain has been hugely enriched by the migration of Irishmen and women to these shores. The contribution of Irish people to Britain has reached into every walk of British life,” she said. Adding: “And yet, over the years, many Irish migrants to Britain encountered discrimination and a lack of appreciation.”Happily, those days are now behind us, and it is widely recognised that Britain is a better place because of the Irish people who live here.”The Queen also made reference to the peace process in Northern Ireland.”Our two governments will continue to work together in Northern Ireland to support the First and Deputy First Minister and the Executive to advance the peace process and to establish a shared society based on mutual respect and equality of opportunity,” she said. President Higgins said her “apt and considered words when you addressed some of the painful moments of our mutual history” were valued. He said people were “moved” by the Queen’s gestures of respect at sites of national historical significance in Ireland. “These memorable moments and these moving words merit our appreciation and, even more, our reciprocity.”While the past must be respectfully recognised, it must not imperil the potential of the present or the possibilities of the future – ar feidireachtai gan teorainn – our endless possibilities working together,” he said.”Britain and Ireland shall no longer allow our past to ensnare our future. The goal of modern British-Irish relations can be simply stated, said Queen Elizabeth. She added: “It is that we, who inhabit these islands, should live together as neighbours and friends. Respectful of each other’s nationhood, sovereignty and traditions.”Cooperating to our mutual benefit. At ease in each other’s company.”

The End

President of Ireland at a Reception at St. Mary’s Guildhall, Coventry

Address by Michael D. Higgins, President of Ireland

At a Reception at St. Mary’s Guildhall, Coventry

Friday, 11th April 2014

A dhaoine uaisle, a chairde. Tá an-áthas orm bheith anseo libh inniu.

I am delighted to bring a memorable State Visit to a close in a city with so many Irish connections, and in a place that enjoys great renown as a symbol of peace and reconciliation.

I would like to thank Coventry City Council and, in particular, Councillor Gary Crookes, Lord Mayor of Coventry, for hosting us here today and for extending such a warm welcome.

I have had a very long personal association with Britain, and have been visiting here for over fifty years. I first came as a university student seeking work during the term holidays. My two sisters emigrated to England at the age of twenty, and worked for British Rail at Central Station and Victoria Station in Manchester. They both married in Manchester, one to a railwayman from a multi-generational railway family from Oldham, where my sister and her family still live. My other sister married an Irishman from Mayo, all of whose family except one, lived in England.

When I came as a post-graduate student to Manchester University in 1968, and initially stayed with my sister in Corby Street near Belle Vue, I regularly moved between the two worlds of an Irish construction worker’s family in Manchester, and the realm of British academia. My field of research was apt – migration.

Over the intervening years I have travelled regularly to Britain – to stay in touch with my siblings and their families; to visit Irish community centres; to maintain fraternal contacts in the labour movement; and, as a parliamentarian, to advance inter-parliamentary links with my colleagues in Westminster. During all this time, including the decades of the 1970s and 1980s when the conflict in Northern Ireland cast a dark shadow over British-Irish relations, I was always impressed by the resilience of the Irish community in Britain.

In the 1960s, in Manchester and across Britain, monuments to the labour of Irish workers could be seen throughout the cities and countryside, most particularly with the construction of the motorways but also on the building sites where Irish tradesmen and labourers were often the backbone of the workforce. The phrase “the men who built Britain” was more than an idle boast. It was a statement of pride in the reputation for industry and capacity for hard work rightly earned by our people.

As historians such as Ultan Cowley have recounted, that tradition of Irish construction work goes back at least as far as the building of the canals and railways, through to the construction, in more recent times of the Channel Tunnel and the skyscrapers of the City.

There are other sectors of the economy, too numerous to list here but including agriculture, teaching and nursing, where routes of labour migration were carved especially deeply. Indeed, it was a great privilege for me, on Wednesday, to witness the continuing contribution of Irish nurses and doctors to British medicine during my visit to University College Hospital in London.

Generations of Irish Travellers have also made their mark in this country, contributing to the fabric of the land as agricultural labourers in the fertile plains of East Anglia, as horse dealers, and in so many other trades. A willingness to accommodate the specific requirements of the travelling life is the measure of any true hospitality, here as in Ireland.

During the 1950s, around half a million Irish men and women made the journey to Britain, my sisters among them. When we think of the circumstances in which these earlier generations of Irish emigrants moved to Britain, it is a joy to note that there is virtually no aspect of British civic or political life that has not been enriched by contributions from the Irish community. That success is due in no small part to the determination and character of those who settled here in more difficult times – some indeed who are in this room today.

Today the Irish community has become one of the most dynamic communities in Britain. This is reflected in the fact that some 50,000 Irish people now sit on the boards of British companies. In my speech at the Guildhall in London earlier this week, I pointed to the contemporary contribution being made, by our many highly skilled graduates, to British industry, to the professions, in commerce and in education. For this generation, migration is often temporary, or may even take the form of commuting, and many of these young people will return to Ireland enriched by the experience and education they gain here.

In marking the successes and achievements of those Irish men and women who have made those journeys and built new lives in Britain, we must also, of course, recognise that for some of our people, migration from Ireland was painful and traumatic. Many left difficult circumstances behind and some found hard lives in their new home. The story of the Irish in Britain has many dimensions, but as President of Ireland I am immensely proud today to bear witness to your contribution to the culture and life of Britain, and your continuing centrality in our national identity.

Of course British people too made the journey in the opposite direction, to Ireland – some for reasons of employment; others for reasons of family or romantic attachment; and others again because they just felt an affinity for the smaller island.

Since the time of Saints Patrick and Colmcille, the journeys in both directions across the Irish Sea have been countless. This afternoon, I would like to recall just two that have direct relevance to Coventry.

In September 1950 a young poet, born and raised in Coventry quite close to here, moved to Belfast to take up a new job as Librarian at Queen’s University. He was a migrant. His name was Philip Larkin, and over the next five years in Belfast he wrote some of the finest poetry of his career. Later, drawing on a migrant’s sensibility, he wrote a description of his emptied family home. It stands today as one of the most apt descriptions of the memory of an emptied home felt by any migrant, and felt by so many Irish homes marked by emigration not only during that decade:

“Home is so sad. It stays as it was left.

Shaped to the comfort of the last to go

As if to win them back.”

So, while we rightly celebrate the legacy of the contribution of Irish emigrants to this country, we should not forget the terrible human cost exacted by this aspect of our history on our own people, the leaving and the left, and the emptied landscape of possibility.

Two years after Philip Larkin returned to this country, another poet left his native Belfast to take up a new job as Director of the Herbert Art Gallery and Museum here in Coventry. John Hewitt would call this city his home for the next fifteen years and would memorably capture Coventry’s great generous spirit as it rebuilt itself after the Blitz, writing of:

“…………..this eager city,

the tolerance that laced its blatant roar,

its famous steeples and its web of girders

as image of the state hope argued for”

Transience is the circumstance at the heart of these great poets’ work, as it is at the heart of the experience of all migrants. When they arrived here, many Irish men and women did indeed find “the state hope argued for” and we will never forget the generosity of those who held out the hand of friendship to them.

Standing here in this ancient Guildhall, in the shadow of your great Cathedral and under the watchful gaze of those two protagonists at the battle of the Boyne, William and James, I am reminded of the words of Nelson Mandela, at whose funeral I was honoured to speak;

“Courageous people do not fear forgiving, for the sake of peace”.

What is true of great people might also be said of great cities. This great city has lived and continues to live by those words.

In 1944, with the Second World War still raging and only a few years after the city had been devastated in the Blitz, and in an act of great empathy on your part, you reached out to another devastated city and twinned with Stalingrad, now Volgograd.

You rebuilt and dedicated your Cathedral to reconciliation and forgiveness – reminding the world, at a dark time, that humanity and compassion had not been extinguished. I was therefore honoured to be welcomed to Coventry Cathedral by Dean Witcombe and to witness a number of its symbolic features associated with peace, reconciliation and ecumenical dialogue. I was particularly pleased to meet representatives of other Christian faiths in the Chapel of Unity.

Coventry is rightly respected for its outstanding work in the art of healing the wounds of past conflicts. Its story provides a powerful inspiration for those in Northern Ireland who are continuing to struggle to deal with the legacy of conflict, and to ensure that the toxins of a divisive past do not poison our hopes for a shared future.

The lesson of Coventry is that peace will only be embedded when we each have the generosity and the empathy to recognise the common humanity of the other, including former enemies, and to accord respect to their differing perspectives and narratives.

This empathy has been sustained in Coventry as you have extended your hand in solidarity to cities all over the world, twinning with, among many others, Warsaw in 1957, Dresden in 1959 and, recognising those strong Irish connections, Cork in 1958.

Cork was, of course, the final stop for Queen Elizabeth during her visit to Ireland three years ago. I am therefore delighted to see representatives from the city of Cork here today reinforcing those important links. Her Majesty’s State Visit to Ireland was a ground-breaking event for Britain and Ireland. Our two nations have come a very long way in recent years in terms of mutual understanding and cooperation. It is a journey not yet complete, but we are both strongly committed to continuing our journey in cooperation, as we face current and future challenges together.

It has been my privilege during this State Visit to continue strengthening the hand of friendship stretching across the Irish Sea.

Sabina and I would like to take this opportunity to thank our hosts, Her Majesty the Queen and His Royal Highness, the Duke of Edinburgh for the warmth of their welcome and their kindness and hospitality over these past few days. Through the Lord Chamberlain, the Earl Peel who is with us today, and the Viscount Hood who graciously accompanied us throughout the visit, I also wish to express our appreciation to the team at the Royal Household for the efficiency and courtesy of all the arrangements made on our behalf.

The programme of events during the visit has demonstrated the depth, authenticity and warmth of the relationship between our two countries. It has illustrated that, in virtually every area of life, the people of the United Kingdom and Ireland are cooperating with each other, are learning from each other, and are supporting each other practically and on a daily basis.

I cannot think of a better place to bring this State Visit to a close than among the Irish community: with the Irish in Britain, active for 40 years; with the St. Patrick’s Club in Leamington Spa which has just celebrated its 50th year; with the Coventry Irish Society; the Coventry Cork Poets Group; and the Coventry County Associations. You, and all Irish organisations, play a vital role by providing a “home from home” for our community. I thank you for your fidelity to your homeland of origin; for your solidarity to each other; and for the contribution you have made to the warm friendship that now exists between Ireland and the United Kingdom.

This State Visit has had its essential share of ceremonial formality, but at its heart it has been about the warmest of relations between close neighbours.

If I may be allowed a note of regret from this visit, it is that the late Seamus Heaney was not with us to witness it. Seamus and Marie rightly shared the table of honour at the State Dinner in Dublin Castle during Her Majesty’s visit in May 2011. It was an honour not just merited by Seamus’ poetic genius, but also by his humanitarian and reconciling influence within the Republic of Letters and the Republic of Conscience, and above all by his enthralling companionability.

In reflecting on what Seamus might have made of this State visit to the United Kingdom, I thought of his following lines:

“Our pioneers keep striking

Inwards and downwards,

Every layer they strip

Seems camped on before.”

The historical terrain shared by our two peoples has been the site of many and different camps over the years. We, in this generation, are now the pioneers who are stripping away the old layers of the troubled past and creating a new path of hope and opportunity. As I conclude this first State Visit by an Irish President to the United Kingdom, my earnest hope is that our two countries will continue to tread the path of neighbourly friendship together.

Go raibh míle maith agaibh agus rath Dé oraibh go léir.

President of Ireland at the Royal Shakespeare Company, Stratford-upon-Avon

Speech by Michael D. Higgins, President of Ireland

Royal Shakespeare Company, Stratford-upon-Avon

Friday, 11th April, 2014

It was Václav Havel who said:

“Words are a mysterious, ambiguous, ambivalent, and perfidious phenomenon. They are capable of being rays of light in a realm of darkness… They are equally capable of being lethal arrows. Worst of all, at times they can be the one and the other. And even both at once!”

The words exchanged between Ireland and England have often been part of a long and sometimes tortured exchange. We cannot pretend that it was always a happy and friendly affair, to do so would be a disservice to truth and history. Here in this place, sacred to the English language and its many glories, it would be inauthentic and foolish to gloss over truth, since at the heart of language there is and there must be a passion for truth.

Today I want to acknowledge a great truth: the English language that we share, if it was once the enforced language of conquest, it is today the very language in which we have now come to delight in one another, to share our different and complementary understandings of what it means to be human together in this world, transacting in the currency of words.

To share a language is to privilege the existence of the other, to accept the joy and the responsibility of hospitality. To search for the expression of hope, grief, and justice in a common language is a deepening and widening of understanding. It is to expand the horizons of solidarity, and solidarity is the search always and everywhere for a future in a world not yet fashioned or even born, where our children and their children can share in compassionate mutual understanding.

A valued friend said to me, when I told him I was coming here –“remind them that Shakespeare was christened in Latin and buried in English.” It could equally be said of his contemporary, Cervantes, that he was christened in Latin and buried in Castellano. It is, in other words, a longstanding feature of the European mind that at any given time it has a lingua franca as well as, in any given place, a local language in which to express itself, its mentalité, its sense of being in the world.

That English, to whose Anglo Saxon foundations he added so much, was the site of Shakespeare’s expression of his genius. A language open and inclusive, today it has become the lingua franca of much of our contemporary world. We Irish, never mind the complex ways in which it happened, were early adapters. Indeed, outside of the island of Britain, and long before the Americans, we were the first outsiders to enter into dialogue with the English language, inside the frame of that language itself and its origins.

That word ‘dialogue’ is so important since from the very earliest times the English language as used in Ireland, as used by Irish men and women, has pursued its own path, animated and shaped by not just a difference in how we and you experience the world but by a crucial, structural distinction.

Shakespeare’s English was a construct that had by his time melded into itself Anglo Saxon, Old High German, Norse, Italian, Norman, French, Latin and Greek. By the Elizabethan age, that language had arrived, more or less, at its full powers of expression.

To be sure, the vagaries of fashion and an expanding vocabulary have ensured that English as spoken and written in Britain has continued to evolve, but structurally and syntactically it has changed only imperceptibly from the days of Shakespeare.

In Ireland, by contrast, the English language underwent a different evolution, and this is because the manner in which we deploy the language is shadowed and deeply inflected by the enduring Irish language.

This is not just a question of vocabulary, still less is it a reflection of an imperfect grasp of the language – it could not be seriously argued that Shaw and Wilde, Sheridan, Oliver Goldsmith or Brian Friel had an imperfect grasp of English. No, what I am pointing to here is the way in which the fluidity, the conceptual grace and above all the relationship with time and tense that is characteristic of the Irish language has inflected and shaped the English we write and speak.

English English, if I might permit myself the term, has a positive love of all that is definite, short and exact. It possesses, for instance, the shortest, most explosive and emphatic of negatives in the word ‘no’. There is no single word in Irish for ‘no’. To convey a negative in Irish it is necessary to go a little further. If I frame the question, in English, ‘was the audience composed of intelligent, good-looking people’, the answer in English might be ‘no’ – not, of course, in this present instance. If I were to ask in Irish, ‘an raibh an lucht éisteachta ciallmhar dathúil?’ the curmudgeonly answer might well be ‘ní raibh siad’, which you might translate as ‘they were not’ or ‘they were neither’ perhaps with an implied ‘alas’.

Again, I hope you will not think I am referring to present company, since it is evident that you are all intelligent and, if you will permit me, also good-looking. I offer this minor example of difference in order to point to something that should excite us to celebrate difference.

It may well be that Latin, as a lingua franca, was superseded by English, between his christening and his funeral in the life of Shakespeare, precisely because English was not, once we Irish began to adventure in the language, ever in danger of becoming a dead language.

I might even argue, tentatively of course, that English would never have become a world language, as it is today in new circumstances of a technological revolution sourced in telegraphy, were it not for first the Irish, then the Americans, anglophone Canadians, Australians, New Zealanders, Indians, South Africans and certain peoples of the Caribbean.

The magnificent poetry of Derek Walcott has made a dynamic English of his negotiation between the patois of St. Lucia and the sonnets of Shakespeare. The advent of the American demotic into poetry and prose has irradiated and profoundly enlivened English, from Mistress Bradstreet to Adrienne Rich, from Hawthorne to Don de Lillo. And what is gained from the magnificent Australian sprawl of Les Murray’s poetry, or the novels of Doris Lessing, born in what was once Rhodesia, and the Canadian Margaret Attwood? What gifts have we been given, through the English language, in the novels of Nadine Gordimer or J.M. Coetzee?

George Bernard Shaw once observed that the English and the Americans are two people separated by a common language. It was a witty remark and, in terms of psycho-linguistics, an astute observation. More to our point here, his perception can be very usefully reframed to cast light on the present happy phase of relations between our two peoples, as we pass slowly but surely into a new kind of relationship between Ireland and Britain. If I invoke here the spirits of Joyce and Beckett, Wilde, Shaw, Yeats and Seamus Heaney, it is to point towards the amplified sense of our common humanity these great writers have won through to, exercising their imaginations in our doubled English.

And the evidence is there in the work we have seen and heard from the Bard himself.

In Henry IV, Act i., Scene 4, Pistol responds to a greeting in French with what to the groundlings, and no doubt their betters, would have sounded like gibberish. He employs the phrase

‘Caleno o custure me’.

This apparent nonsense phrase is a phonetic rendition of the Irish

‘Cailín ó cois Siúire mé’, ‘I am a girl from the banks of the Suir.’

The tune to this Irish folksong appears in the The Virginal of Queen Elizabeth the First, most likely conveyed to her by Edmund Spenser. Alfred Perceval Graves, son of the Bishop of Limerick, wrote new words for the tune, and may I conclude with a brief poem by Alfred’s son, Robert Graves, author of inter alia “The White Goddess” with its beautiful tribute to Amhergin whom we share.

Robert, evoking Ezekiel, reminds us that the dictionary is a valley of dry bones. If a dictionary was a tool of empire in the 16th century, in the 21st an approach to the language of the other can be a tool of discovery of the means of ethical cooperation in facing common challenges.

DANCE OF WORDS by Robert Graves

“To make them move, you should start from lightning
And not forecast the rhythm: rely on chance,
Or so-called chance for its bright emergence
Once lightning interpenetrates the dance.

Grant them their own traditional steps and postures
But see they dance it out again and again
Until only lightning is left to puzzle over —
The choreography plain, and the theme plain.”

It is the business of living souls to breathe life into words, and I have no doubt but that our long conversation in a shared language will continue into the far future to breathe new life, and the lightning of our different imaginations, into a common human purpose.

Thank you, go raibh míle maith agaibh go léir.

Michael D. Higgins, President of Ireland at the Royal Albert Hall, London

Remarks by Michael D. Higgins, President of Ireland

Royal Albert Hall, London

Thursday, 10th April 2014

Your Royal Highnesses, Prince and Princess Michael of Kent:

A Thaoisigh, A Thánaiste:

A Chairde go léir:

Nach bhfuil sé cóir go dtréaslímid leis na gceoltóirí is leis na hamhránaithe den scoth atá ag glacadh páirt san ócáid cheiliúrtha seo.

Taoiseach, Tánaiste:


Isn’t it right and proper that we congratulate the first-rate musicians and singers who are taking part in this celebratory occasion.

In this magnificent venue and on this wonderful and historic occasion, I wish to extend my thanks to a number of people who have made this evening’s celebration, and indeed the past few days, so positive and uplifting.

First of all, Sabina and I wish to express our deep appreciation to our hosts – Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth and His Royal Highness, the Duke of

Edinburgh, for the gracious welcome and warm hospitality they have extended to us and to our delegation.

The evident grace and warmth with which they have prepared for, and arranged, my State Visit is reflective of the true and deep friendship that now exists between Ireland and the United Kingdom.

I am delighted that their Royal Highnesses, Prince and Princess Michael of Kent have been able to join us this evening, and we all hope that they will have been sufficiently entertained to transmit a positive review to the Queen.

This evening’s celebration demonstrates once again the importance of culture in general and, in particular, the depth and richness of our Irish cultural tradition.

What we have seen and heard also shows how deeply interwoven are the wider cultures of these islands, and how they have influenced and enriched each other.

So may I thank all of our artists for the authenticity, generosity and excellence of their performances.

I also wish to acknowledge, with deep gratitude, the work of Culture Ireland, the production team and all the people here in the Royal Albert Hall whose fruitful collaboration has made this wonderful night possible.

This celebration, above all, is for the thousands of Irish people in this Hall who have made Britain their home or whose parents or grandparents did,as well as the friends, neighbours, relatives and in-laws, they have brought along.

I thank you most sincerely for the fidelity you have shown to Ireland over many years; for the contribution you have made to the development of Britain; and for your part in the consolidation of an enduring friendship between our two countries.

You remain a cherished member of the Irish family. I thank all of you who have travelled to be here, be your journeys long or short.

On a night like this, it is great to be Irish. And it is even better to share it in the company of our friends in Britain. Ar aghaidh leis an gceol.

Beannachtaí oraibh go léir.

Michael D Higgins Flys Home After Successful UK State Visit

President Higgins returns after UK State visit

Source: RTE News 11/4/2014 Online

President Michael D Higgins has arrived back in Ireland following his State visit to the UK.

Other RTE News Articles About The Irish State Visit:

President Higgins hails ‘memorable’ State visit

President thanks Britain for support during crisis

Irish and British becoming ‘even better friends’

Marking a Milestone: Reporting on the State visit

State Visit to the UK – Day 2

NPR Bestsellers 3rd April 2014

NPR Coverage exists denotes NPR coverage
Hardback Fiction

1 The Goldfinch Donna Tartt
2 The Invention of Wings Sue Monk Kidd
3 Missing You Harlan Coben
4 Bark Lorrie Moore
5 Still Life With Bread Crumbs Anna Quindlen
6 The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry Gabrielle Zevin
7 One More Thing B. J. Novak
8 The Martian Andy Weir
9 Shotgun Lovesongs Nickolas Butler
10 Raising Steam Terry Pratchett
11 Redeployment Phil Klay
12 The Museum of Extraordinary Things Alice Hoffman
13 The Husband’s Secret Liane Moriarty
14 Gone Girl Gillian Flynn
15 Black-Eyed Blonde Benjamin Black

Hardback Non Fiction
1 Everything I Need to Know I Learned from a Little Golden Book Diane Muldrow
2 Thrive Arianna Huffington
3 A Call to Action Jimmy Carter
4 The Sixth Extinction Elizabeth Kolbert
5 The Boys In The Boat Daniel James Brown
6 Uganda Be Kidding Me Chelsea Handler
7 Grain Brain David Perlmutter, M.D. and Kristin Loberg
8 David and Goliath Malcolm Gladwell
9 William Shakespeare’s The Empire Striketh Back Ian Doescher
10 10% Happier Dan Harris
11 The Future of the Mind Michio Kaku
12 How About Never – Is Never Good for You? Bob Mankoff
13 Unbroken Laura Hillenbrand
14 The Story of the Jews Simon Schama
15 Lean In Sheryl Sandberg

Paperback Fiction
1 Americanah Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
2 The Interestings Meg Wolitzer
3 Orphan Train Christina Baker Kline
4 Where’d You Go, Bernadette Maria Semple
5 A Tale for the Time Being Ruth Ozeki
6 Life After Life Kate Atkinson
7 Beautiful Ruins Jess Walter
8 Dear Life Alice Munro
9 Me Before You Jojo Moyes
10 Cockroaches Jo Nesbo
11 Tenth of December George Saunders
12 The Flamethrowers Rachel Kushner
13 A Constellation Of Vital Phenomena Anthony Marra
14 Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore Robin Sloan
15 Shadow Spell Nora Roberts

Paperback Non Fiction
1 Wild Cheryl Strayed
2 The Monuments Men Robert M. Edsel and Bret Witter
3 Orange Is the New Black Piper Kerman
4 Hyperbole And A Half Allie Brosh
5 Show Your Work! Austin Kleon
6 The Girls Of Atomic City Denise Kiernan
7 Quiet Susan Cain
8 Proof Of Heaven Eben Alexander, M.D.
9 Twelve Years a Slave Solomon Northup, Ira Berlin, Henry Louis Gates and Steve McQueen
10 My Beloved World Sonia Sotomayor
11 The Unwinding George Packer
12 The Power of Habit Charles Duhigg
13 The Plantagenets Dan Jones
14 Wreck This Journal Keri Smith
15 The Gifts of Imperfection Brene Brown

NYT Bestsellers 10/4/2014

Bestsellers List:

1.SHADOW SPELL, by Nora Roberts
2.NYPD RED 2, by James Patterson and Marshall Karp
3.MISSING YOU, by Harlan Coben
4.THE FIXED TRILOGY, by Laurelin Paige
5.BLOSSOM STREET BRIDES, by Debbie Macomber
Complete List »
1.THRIVE, by Arianna Huffington
2.HEAVEN IS FOR REAL, by Todd Burpo with Lynn Vincent
3.TWELVE YEARS A SLAVE, by Solomon Northup
4.CALL TO ACTION, by Jimmy Carter
Complete List »

1.NYPD RED 2, by James Patterson and Marshall Karp
2.MISSING YOU, by Harlan Coben
3.THE GOLDFINCH, by Donna Tartt
4.BLOSSOM STREET BRIDES, by Debbie Macomber
Complete List »

1.THRIVE, by Arianna Huffington
2.CALL TO ACTION, by Jimmy Carter
3.UGANDA BE KIDDING ME, by Chelsea Handler
4.10% HAPPIER, by Dan Harris
5.NOT COOL, by Greg Gutfeld
Complete List »

1.SHADOW SPELL, by Nora Roberts
2.VERONICA MARS: THE THOUSAND-DOLLAR TAN LINE, by Rob Thomas and Jennifer Graham
3.ORPHAN TRAIN, by Christina Baker Kline
4.KING AND MAXWELL, by David Baldacci
5.FOUR FRIENDS, by Robyn Carr
Complete List »

Paperback Mass-Market Fiction
1.DADDY’S GONE A HUNTING, by Mary Higgins Clark
2.UNDER THE DOME, PART 2, by Stephen King
3.ALEX CROSS, RUN, by James Patterson
4.THE HIT, by David Baldacci
5.DASH OF PERIL, by Lori Foster
Complete List »

Paperback Nonfiction
1.HEAVEN IS FOR REAL, by Todd Burpo with Lynn Vincent
2.LONE SURVIVOR, by Marcus Luttrell with Patrick Robinson
3.MONUMENTS MEN, by Robert M. Edsel with Bret Witter
4.PROOF OF HEAVEN, by Eben Alexander
5.POWER OF HABIT, by Charles Duhigg
Complete List »

E-Book Fiction
1.SHADOW SPELL, by Nora Roberts
2.NYPD RED 2, by James Patterson and Marshall Karp
3.THE FIXED TRILOGY, by Laurelin Paige
4.MISSING YOU, by Harlan Coben
5.LITTLE GIRL LOST, by Brian McGilloway
Complete List »

E-Book Nonfiction
1.TWELVE YEARS A SLAVE, by Solomon Northup
3.HEAVEN IS FOR REAL, by Todd Burpo with Lynn Vincent
4.THRIVE, by Arianna Huffington
5.UNBROKEN, by Laura Hillenbrand
Complete List »

Advice, How-To & Miscellaneous
1.THE HUNGRY GIRL DIET, by Lisa Lillien
2.THE END OF DIETING, by Joel Fuhrman
3.THE BODY BOOK, by Cameron Diaz with Sandra Bark
4.GRAIN BRAIN, by David Perlmutter with Kristin Loberg
Complete List »

Children’s Picture Books
1.THE DAY THE CRAYONS QUIT, by Drew Daywalt. Illustrated by Oliver Jeffers
2.LOCOMOTIVE, by Brian Floca
3.GOODNIGHT, GOODNIGHT, CONSTRUCTION SITE, by Sherri Duskey Rinker and Tom Lichtenheld
4.JOURNEY, by Aaron Becker
5.WHAT DOES THE FOX SAY?, by Ylvis. Illustrated by Svein Nyhus
Complete List »

Children’s Middle Grade
1.FROZEN, by RH Disney
3.WONDER, by R. J. Palacio
4.LEGO, THE LEGO MOVIE, by Kate Howard
Complete List »

Young Adult
2.THE BOOK THIEF, by Markus Zusak
4.PAPER TOWNS, by John Green
Complete List »

Children’s Series
1.DIVERGENT, by Veronica Roth
2.THE MAZE RUNNER, by James Dashner
3.THE HUNGER GAMES, by Suzanne Collins
4.THE MORTAL INSTRUMENTS, by Cassandra Clare
5.DIARY OF A WIMPY KID, written and illustrated by Jeff Kinney
Complete List »

Hardcover Graphic Books
1.FEAR AGENT: LIBRARY EDITION, VOL. 2, by Rick Remender, Tony Moore and others
2.UNCANNY X-FORCE BY RICK REMENDER OMNIBUS, by Rick Remender, Jerome Opeña and others
3.JUSTICE LEAGUE: TRINITY WAR, by Geoff Johns and others
4.HELLBOY: THE FIRST 20 YEARS, by Mike Mignola
5.A GAME OF THRONES, VOL. 3, by Daniel Abraham and Tommy Patterson
Complete List »

Paperback Graphic Books
1.SAGA, VOL. 3, by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples
2.THE WALKING DEAD, VOL. 20, by Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard
3.THE WALKING DEAD COMPENDIUM, VOL. 1, by Robert Kirkman and others
4.THE WALKING DEAD COMPENDIUM, VOL. 2, by Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard
5.THE WALKING DEAD, VOL. 19, by Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard
Complete List »

1.MOBILE SUIT GUNDAM: THE ORIGIN, VOL. 5, by Yoshikazu Yasuhiko
2.SOUL EATER, VOL. 19, by Atsushi Ohkubo
3.ATTACK ON TITAN, VOL. 1, by Hajime Isayama
4.ATTACK ON TITAN: BEFORE THE FALL, VOL. 1, by Hajime Isayama, Ryo Suzukaze and Satoshi Shiki
5.ATTACK ON TITAN: JUNIOR HIGH, VOL. 1, by Hajime Isayama and Saki Nakagawa
Complete List »

Business Books
1.LEAN IN, by Sheryl Sandberg with Nell Scovell
2.THRIVE, by Arianna Huffington
3.THINKING, FAST AND SLOW, by Daniel Kahneman
4.SUCCESS THROUGH STILLNESS, by Russell Simmons with Chris Morrow
5.WOLF OF WALL STREET, by Jordan Belfort
Complete List »

Political Books
1.TWELVE YEARS A SLAVE, by Solomon Northup
2.MONUMENTS MEN, by Robert M. Edsel with Bret Witter
3.LONE SURVIVOR, by Marcus Luttrell with Patrick Robinson
4.UNBROKEN, by Laura Hillenbrand
5.DUTY, by Robert M. Gates
Complete List »

2.GRAIN BRAIN, by David Perlmutter with Kristin Loberg
3.THE HUNGRY GIRL DIET, by Lisa Lillien
4.THE DANIEL PLAN, by Rick Warren, Daniel Amen, Mark Hyman and others
5.WHEAT BELLY, by William Davis
Complete List »

2.SHOWTIME, by Jeff Pearlman
3.CYCLE OF LIES, by Juliet Macur
4.THE RISE OF SUPERMAN, by Steven Kotler
Complete List »

Speech by Michael D. Higgins, President of Ireland at The Royal Society, London

Speech by Michael D. Higgins, President of Ireland

Royal Society, London

Wednesday, 9th April 2014 Speech by Michael D. Higgins, President of Ireland at The Royal Society, London
Vice-President Pethica:

Distinguished Fellows of the Royal Society:

Ladies and Gentlemen:

May I thank Professor Pethica for his kind words of introduction, and all of you for your generous welcome.

Mar Uachtarán na hÉireann, is mór an onóir agus an pléisiúir dom é cuairt a thabhairt ar an gCumann Ríoga, institiúid a bhfuil tar éis forbairtí gaoiseacha a dhéanamh ar eolaíocht an Iarthair agus ar ár dtuiscint ar an saol mór.

[As President of Ireland, I am both honoured and greatly pleased to visit the Royal Society, an institution which has made such a profound contribution to the development of Western science and our understanding of the world.]

This first State Visit by a President of Ireland to the United Kingdom is a celebration of the relationship between our two countries, in all of its rich dimensions. The vibrancy of this relationship irrigates the circulation of knowledge, the debates of ideas, and the many productive collaborations that bring together British and Irish scientists.

Though sometimes not fully appreciated, the human and intellectual ties between our two countries carry great significance and historical depth. In 1968, my distinguished predecessor, Éamon de Valera, who had a keen, life-long interest in mathematics, was elected a Fellow of this Society.

In the 1940s, de Valera had presided over the foundation of the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies, in consultation with two of his old professors, Arthur Conway and Sir Edmund Taylor Whittaker. Professor Whittaker had, as Royal Astronomer of Ireland, taught mathematical physics at Trinity College Dublin before taking on a position at the University of Edinburgh. Arthur Conway had introduced de Valera to quaternions – a number system which itself originated in Ireland, in the work of William Rowan Hamilton, whose achievements are still celebrated each year in his native Dublin.

In fact, the Royal Society’s Irish connections go back much further, to the Society’s very first meetings in the mid-1640s. Among the founding figures, that group of “natural philosophers” who put forward the virtues of observation and experimentation as a means to apprehend the natural world, we find Robert Boyle, the son of the Earl of Cork and one of the most prominent Irishmen to have made science his vocation.

The experimental investigations, the spirit of discovery and questioning which made Boyle one of the central figures in the scientific revolution of the 17th century, aptly reflect the particular nature of the Irish genius. Indeed the most significant products of Irish culture have had as their defining characteristic a tendency to look at the world in novel and unconventional ways and to question prevailing orthodoxies.

Because the power of imagination has, in Ireland, found such remarkable incarnations in the realm of words – in the spheres of arts and literature – its contribution to our understanding of the natural world has, perhaps, been overshadowed. Even among the Irish, the names of Swift, Wilde, Yeats, Joyce, Shaw, Beckett or Heaney are of far more renown than that of Ernest Walton who, in 1951, was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics for his pioneering work on the artificial splitting of the nucleus of the atom.

That is not as it should be: we need to better understand the role of scientific knowledge in shaping our relationship to the world. Irish scientific achievements represent many milestones in the journey of modern Western rationality. We can think of Robert Boyle and William Hamilton, but also of John Tyndall, who explained why the sky is blue; Nicholas Callan, who invented the induction coil; William Parsons, 3rd Earl of Rosse, who built the world’s largest telescope and used it to locate new structures in the heavens; George Gabriel Stokes, who investigated the phenomenon of fluorescence and advanced the wave theory of light; William Thomson, 1st Baron Kelvin, who contributed so much to the transatlantic telegraph project; John Lighton Synge, who pioneered the study of black holes; or George Francis Fitzgerald, whose understanding of the laws of motion provided an essential building block for the Special Theory of Relativity.

Let us not forget either the famous 1939 essay of John Desmond Bernal on The Social Function of Science.

Finally, I am delighted to note that the first woman to be elected Fellow of the Royal Society, in 1945, was X-ray crystallographer Kathleen Lonsdale, from Newbridge, County Kildare.

It would be a mistake to view Irish science as somehow separate from our culture, as alien to the boundless imagination which drove our great writers. It was an Irish scientist – George Johnstone Stoney, Professor of Natural Philosophy at Queen’s College Galway and later a Vice-President of this Royal Society – who coined the term ‘electron’. But it was an Irish writer, James Joyce, who gave the word ‘quark’ its spelling, in a line of Finnegans Wake – “Three quarks for Muster Mark!”. This may have been an unintentional contribution to the development of particle physics, but it illustrates well the wealth of sources which shape the way we see, understand and talk about science.

It is often said that ours will be the century of neuroscience, and advances in this area certainly give cause for optimism and excitement. But the humanities also have something essential to contribute to our comprehension of the nature of human consciousness or what it means to be human. The universe cannot be understood through its physical properties alone.

I am convinced that it is through leaping the boundaries that divide discipline from discipline, science from the arts and humanities, and by marshalling the diverse influences from our intellectual heritage that we can best meet the complex challenges of the future.

One great challenge lies in the rapid pace of scientific and technological development, its diffusion on a global scale, which has yet to be matched by the cultivation of critical and informed dialogues within the wider society on the impact of such developments. This, I believe, calls for some level of reintegration between science and philosophy; it requires the crafting of a wide-ranging ethical discourse in which all citizens – not just the most expert, or scientifically literate among them – are invited to take part.

This challenge is all the more pressing as the ethical issues arising from contemporary scientific and technological applications have reached unprecedented levels of acuteness. Recent developments in the life sciences, for example, give new salience to the opportunities and perils encapsulated in the old Promethean myth. The damages inflicted to our planet by climate change also raise novel ethical questions: indeed, the possibility of the total destruction of our world was not a concern of Enlightenment philosophers.

On all these questions, it is essential that we instigate far-reaching dialogues, not only between the disciplines but also, I would suggest, between Ireland and Britain. It would be so valuable to see these national dialogues expand and mature alongside the strengthening of scientific cooperation between our two countries.

In Ireland we have, in recent decades, made great strides in developing the scientific resources that will help us meet the challenges of the future and consolidate our international reputation for research excellence.

The results achieved to date have been extremely encouraging. Ireland has emerged as a leading country globally for the quality of its scientific research, notably in fields such as immunology and probiotics, nanoscience, and materials science. Our country also ranks third in the European Union for innovation output.

For a country the size of Ireland, these are no mean accomplishments.

But we have not achieved these feats on our own. To advance, science requires broad horizons, a willingness to seek out new ideas and perspectives from other disciplines and different cultures. I am glad to say that this type of cross-fertilisation is very much part of the current research ecosystem in Ireland.

Today is therefore a fitting occasion to draw attention to the scientific collaborations that currently play such a beneficial role in expanding our two countries’ shared horizon of possibilities.

I know that Science Foundation Ireland and the Royal Society are discussing the establishment of a joint programme aimed at supporting Irish scientists of outstanding potential, and I wish them well in this final phase of their discussions.

May I also commend the International Exchange Cost Share Programme, run jointly by the Royal Society and the Royal Irish Academy, which supports new collaborations between British and Irish Scientists.

Science Gallery is another example of a vibrant partnership between Ireland and the UK. First established at Trinity College Dublin, Science Gallery will, in 2016, expand its programme of creative collisions between scientists, artists, designers and engineers, to a new gallery established on the Guy’s Campus of King’s College London.

The community of scientists on our two islands has led the world in so many fields, and left such a valuable legacy for humanity. The various initiatives I just mentioned do, I hope, plant the seeds for the breaking of new grounds through renewed cooperation between Irish and British scientists in the years to come.

Today the UK and Ireland share a scientific culture and a commitment to scientific endeavour which, if framed by an appropriate ethical discourse, offers the promise of new advances and a more conscious relationship to the world we inhabit.

I am therefore delighted to have had this opportunity to visit the Royal Society to celebrate the centuries-old scientific links between our countries; to affirm and support the present nexus of British-Irish collaboration in science and research; and, in facing up to the challenges of the future, to encourage a discourse that is holistic, multidisciplinary and ethically robust.

Go raibh míle maith agaibh.

Thank you for your attention.


Speech by Michael D. Higgins, President of Ireland, Youth Event, City Hall ‘TAKE CHARGE OF CHANGE’ – ‘GLAC SEILBH AR ATHRÚ’ Wednesday, 9th April 2014
Speech by Michael D. Higgins, President of Ireland

Youth Event, City Hall,

Wednesday, 9th April 2014


Secretary of State for Northern Ireland:

Tánaiste and Minister Fitzgerald:

Ladies and Gentlemen:

It gives me great pleasure to be with you here today in City Hall;

a building from which we can see both the Tower of London, that resonates with history, and the gleaming new skyscrapers of the City – reminding us that London is a metropolis that powerfully displays the rich legacy of its past while also embracing with enthusiasm the possibilities of a new and modern age.
Today we look at all those varying possibilities through the futures of a group of outstanding young people from both our nations, including many from the Irish Community in the United Kingdom. All of you, I know, are representatives of so many other young people, young people with energy and, above all, critical capacity, who are not afraid to imagine, to reconsider and to innovate as they craft the kind of world they wish to inhabit and enter into dialogue on the kind of future they aspire to make together.

I am most impressed by the presentations we have just heard, that have been prepared and presented as a result of the dynamic engagement which has been taking place here today amongst some 50 young people. Young people who already are or, in the future, will be leaders, policy makers and, most importantly, emancipatory thinkers and active citizens helping to guide and shape a society that is creative, inclusive and constantly open to new concepts and new possibilities.

It was both inspiring and uplifting to hear your thoughts and insights on the challenges that face us today and your views as to how, working together, you can navigate the way forward towards a better future. The range of topics you have covered is deeply impressive. It extends across a wide cross-section of issues and concerns. It is a source of the greatest hope and confidence in the future to be in the presence of young people who have that remarkable ability to think about life in a way that is liberating, that is inclusive, and that has both the confidence and the moral courage to question the way things are and to set about making them better.

During my first year as President of Ireland, I initiated a six month consultation and conversation on the theme of ‘Being Young and Irish.’ My goal in that initiative was to engage young people as active and reflective citizens in contemporary Ireland and to recognise, affirm and encourage them as one of the key sources of wisdom in solving core social, political, economic and cultural issues. My vision for the initiative was that it would help build an active, inclusive citizenship for which we need a new discourse – one based on participation, equality, respect for all and the flowering of creativity in all its forms.

The ‘Being Young and Irish’ initiative was aimed at young Irish people living in Ireland and abroad. Indeed, many Irish citizens living in Britain also participated in it and brought an important and unique perspective to the conversation. The resulting ‘Take Charge of Change’ declaration – ‘Glac seilbh ar athrú’ – spoke of the future as “a place where young people reach their potential, have a solid future and a valued voice.”

That is why I am so pleased to have heard how our fifty young people here today have expressed their individual and unique voices and have proven that they truly do have the power to effect positive transformation. They are demonstrating both a rigorous sense of active citizenship, and an ability to envision a future founded on a spirit of altruism, solidarity, and hospitality – a combination that has the potential to achieve great things.

I know that many of our participants here today are from Northern Ireland, and that they are the first generation to grow up there as inheritors of a peace process founded on the cornerstones of equality and democratic partnership. Not only did the Good Friday Agreement of 1998 provide a template for peace and reconciliation within Northern Ireland, it also enabled a more dynamic and fruitful relationship between Ireland and Britain.

In my visits to Northern Ireland I have met with many remarkable young people, already on the path to becoming actors in building a more open and ethical society. They are young people who understand only too well that prejudice or old grievances do not evaporate overnight when peace is announced or new legislation is passed. They know that animosities can only be removed when, as citizens, we transcend such legacies, let go and reach a true sense of human empathy and solidarity with each other, thereby diminishing the toxic impact of sectarianism.

Two outstanding award winners from Northern Ireland, who have demonstrated this spirit of solidarity, will shortly receive certificates. One of these has chosen a Gaisce-The President’s Award certificate under the Joint Award Initiative in Northern Ireland, and one has selected the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award certificate, both of which recognise exemplary active citizenship in Northern Ireland. These awards show the significant progress that has been achieved in bringing young people from both communities together in working towards a shared future.

That sense of unity and accord has been much in evidence here today and reminds us of the great debt we owe to the many organisations that do so much valuable work in empowering young people; organisations like the Washington Ireland Programme which has focused on students from both parts of Ireland; the British Youth Council, who have been so supportive in organising and co-hosting this event; and the Northern Ireland Youth Forum who, in partnership with the Council, ran the first elections to the Northern Ireland Youth Parliament last year, an event that provided a unique experience for young people from both communities. Indeed, I will shortly present an award to two young representatives from the Northern Ireland Youth Parliament.

The vibrancy of the Irish community here in Britain, and the many flourishing Irish Community organisations are a testament to their own resilience and to the adaptive nature of British society. In Ireland we are very proud of our Diaspora and greatly value all they do to promote and sustain positive connections with many countries around the globe.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade plays a key role in supporting Irish emigrants everywhere in the world, and our Embassy here works closely with the large network of support and welfare organisations that have developed in Britain over the decades. Organisations such as Irish in Britain, the Irish Chaplaincy in Britain, the Irish Travellers Movement in Britain and the various community services and county organisations provide practical support for members of the Irish community including new migrants, as well as for second and third generation Irish. These community organisations also allow our people to maintain links with their Irish identity and heritage and to contribute to the wider Irish community.

Networks such as the Irish International Business Network, the London Irish Business Society and the London Irish Graduates’ Network also do invaluable work in helping young people to develop new skills and fulfil their potential to be future leaders. I am delighted that young representatives nominated by these organisations have taken part in today’s workshop.

You represent, of course, a generation growing up as young Europeans, fellow members of the European Union, and there is so much work for both of our peoples to do outside of these islands. As young people and adults you will have a role to play in building and imagining the Europe of the future. We all wish to see an effective and progressive Europe – but one which also remains true to the values of its founders who saw the European Community as a vital instrument of peace and solidarity on a continent that had been scarred by war.

Let us celebrate what we have witnessed today, the essential work on the hopes and possibilities of an important cohort of our citizens, young citizens of the United Kingdom and Ireland who have undertaken the task of re-thinking, re-imagining and re-structuring the way we live. Young people who are seeking to define the values to be applied in the world we share together. On both sides of the Irish Sea, our societies face tough but exciting challenges, challenges that are full of possibilities in a changing world. Given the determination of our young people to change their community for the better, to engage in their society as active citizens, and to work with each other in a spirit of friendship and mutual respect, the future of our two islands is very bright indeed.

Bhain mé an-sásamh as a bheith anseo inniu. Ba mhaith liom ár n-óige a mholadh agus comhghairdeas a dhéanamh leo as a bheith chomh fial lena gcuid smaointe, a bhfís agus a ndóchas don todhchaí. Guím gach rath oraibh go léir don todhchaí sin; todhchaí ina mbeidh bhur n-idéalachas, bhur misneach agus bhur bhfuinneamh ar fáil chun sochaí a bhaint amach a dhéanfaidh fónamh dá saoránaigh go léir.

[It has been such a great pleasure to be here today. I would like to commend and congratulate all our young people who have given so generously of their ideas, their vision and their hopes for the future.

I wish you all every success for that future; one where your idealism, your courage and your energy can offer so much to achieving a society that cherishes all its citizens.]

Let me conclude with the words of the Irish poet and philosopher, John O’Donoghue. They come from his reflection “For a New Beginning”

“Then the delight, when your courage kindled,

And out you stepped onto new ground

Your eyes young again with energy and dream

A path of plenitude opening before you.”

I wish you well on that path.

Go raibh míle maith agaibh – thank you.

Speech by Michael D. Higgins, President of Ireland

Your Royal Highnesses:

Lord Mayor:



Ladies and Gentlemen,

Mar Uachtarán na Éireann, as President of Ireland, I am deeply honoured and greatly pleased to be here with you tonight in celebration of what is the first State Visit by a President of Ireland to the United Kingdom.

I am of course conscious of the particular role that the Guildhall has played in Irish history. It was here, in 1609, that the Irish Society was conceived, during a meeting at which representatives from the livery companies of London considered undertaking a plantation in Ulster, on lands recently seized from Gaelic chieftains, and the construction of the first planned city in Ireland, on the Western bank of river Foyle.
Over the intervening centuries the people of Derry/Londonderry have lived through many of the most tragic and contentious events of our shared history. It was one of the great joys of my Presidency, then, to visit Derry last year as we celebrated together the creativity of the people of that great city during its tenure as UK City of Culture. That event in Derry/Londonderry stands as a symbol of the profound transformation of the relationship between our countries – from colonisation and conflict to partnership and friendship – and they are a symbol of our shared future together.

The intertwined histories of Ireland and Britain have indeed known great turbulence, but we meet at a time when the relationship between us has never been more friendly or respectful. The vibrancy of this relationship now irrigates every aspect of our societies. Tonight, it is perhaps appropriate to recall and emphasise the social, cultural and economic currents in that relationship, which flow so evenly and naturally now that we may underestimate their significance.

Today the UK and Ireland trade as equal partners within the wider European Single Market. As the Lord Mayor has indicated, our countries share over €1 billion in trade every week. The UK is Ireland’s largest export market, and Ireland is the fifth largest export market for the UK. We trade with each other, and we also spend time with each other. Two out of every five visitors to Ireland last year came from Britain; some returning to their communities, others seeking roots or reviving a connection.

This reminds us that the relationship of peoples is not reducible to what is calculable in any commercial sense. Rather, it is the product of a multi-layered history that is inter-generational.

Our connections with each other are complex and have been influenced by factors of history and economics. During the 1950s, around half a million Irish men and women made the journey across the Irish Sea. These immigrants made such an important contribution to the reconstruction of Britain after the war – building new roads, working in factories and hospitals, tilling fields. Their children and grandchildren now populate all sectors of British life – proud to be British, and equally proud of the Irishness of their roots. Even in our globalised and mobile world, such level of interconnectedness is rare in its depth and the richness of what is shared.

There are numerous areas in which even closer cooperation between the United Kingdom and Ireland can yield mutually beneficial fruit, including construction, the financial services, research and development, tourism, and, most of all perhaps, the creative industries, the agri-food industry, and the energy sector. The first joint UK-Ireland trade mission to Singapore is but one recent example of our ability to identify the common challenges and opportunities facing our two islands. May I say how delighted I am at the Lord Mayor’s announcement of the establishment of the City of London Corporation’s scholarship in Anglo-Irish Literature. This scholarship will add one more thread to the canvas of our common endeavours. The close, multi-stranded working relationship which we have built together is a great resource, one of immense value to our shared future.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The institution of which you are a part, and these surroundings we now enjoy, signify for us something quite profound: that while an enduring institution is an achievement in itself, it also must change to address new challenges. Our global world now is an interdependent existence. Our world, so connected by intricate, and often unaccountable, financial logics, is one where a tremble in one corner of the globe can trigger a financial earthquake in another, leading to consequences not envisaged by their authors or sources in either the developed or developing world.

In Ireland, we have our own direct experience of this. As a small and open economy, we were hit simultaneously by the global financial crisis, over which we had but little control, and by one of its derivatives – the destructive fallout from the collapse of a domestic construction and banking bubble.

We have made progress in addressing these great challenges. Our exports have come back to levels significantly higher than their pre-crisis peak. We have returned to a modest but real growth, and are winning back the trust of our people and of investors; a point not unnoticed by that ‘panopticon’ of the contemporary financial world – the rating agencies. Most importantly, we have gone from losing 1,600 jobs a week during the peak of the crisis to now creating 1,200 jobs a week.

Ireland’s innovative companies are meeting needs across the world – from visitor access software in the Houses of Parliament, here in London, to customer information on the Paris metro, to medical devices that enable blood-free surgery in cardiac centres around the globe. Another Irish groundbreaking initiative is ‘Origin Green’, which is making Ireland one of the most verifiably sustainable places in the world to produce food.

Our human resources are a magnet for investment. Ireland, with the youngest population in the European Union, has the highest percentage of graduates among its population of any country in the Union. Many of these highly qualified graduates are working in Britain and developing skills which, we hope, they will apply in the future in Ireland. I am especially conscious here of the prominent role that is being played by so many Irish academics and researchers within the British university system. We are committed in Ireland to investment in education and research and this is yet another area where there are great benefits to collaboration between us.

In responding to our recent economic crisis, Ireland received significant support from our partners in Europe and, on a bilateral basis, from our friends here in the United Kingdom, for which we are deeply grateful. But it is the ordinary people of Ireland, and generations yet to come, who have borne and continue to bear the cost of the painful decisions that have been taken, aimed at stabilising the public finances and reducing the astounding levels of public debt incurred from rescuing our banks. In the end, it is how our respective peoples experience the result of our action or inaction that is the test of the quality of our decisions. The test will always be a human impact one. As Seamus Heaney reminded us last year, not long before his passing:

“we are not simply a credit rating or an economy but a history and a culture, a human population rather than a statistical phenomenon.”

The human cost of the financial crisis has been enormous. While unemployment is receding in Ireland, it remains too high and the emigration of our young people is a challenge to our future prosperity. It is clear to us in Ireland that providing opportunity for our young people, and harnessing their talents, will be the true measure of our recovery.

Beyond any specificity of the Irish or British versions of the crisis, however, the scale of what we have experienced in recent years calls for a much more fundamental analysis of the nature of our contemporary economic system. When the financial and technological forces that hold sway are unaccountable and seem more powerful than Governments, it poses the question as to who is responsible for their consequences. These are profound issues which require a rich public discourse that seeks to find and craft a sustainable and ethical relationship between economy and society. We need, for example, an approach that embraces the totality of the work of the great Adam Smith. Yes, we may be familiar with the author of the utilitarian Wealth of Nations; but we also need the so much more ethically minded author of Theory of Moral Sentiments. Our need is for a dialogue that is pluralist, and capable of engaging with the wide range of models that our intellectual life makes possible. It is such a dialogue that I am seeking to promote in Ireland, and I know that such a debate is also taking place in Britain.

The City of London has, throughout history, been a crucible for new ideas in social and economic theory. No one understands better than you that economies and societies best flourish in a climate of intellectual openness, where orthodoxies and dominant models are constantly interrogated. In the wake of a banking crisis, it is within our power to envisage new models of possibility – ones where tradition and innovation can enrich each other; where trust and diversity can coexist; and where a sustainable and competitive economy can be based on truly ethical foundations.

Ireland and Britain may be just two countries where such a dialogue is under way. We both recognise, and celebrate, boundless possibilities. When we reflect on the political changes we have witnessed in Northern Ireland, and their benign impact on the wider British-Irish relationship, we have seen in one generation the unimaginable becoming reality. In such an enabling atmosphere of transformational possibility, we are well capable of having this conversation about solutions to the great challenges facing our respective economies and societies.

May I offer, once again, my sincere appreciation for your welcome tonight, and for your attention. In modest exchange, let me offer something that, coming from the President of Ireland, might seem transformational. As a follower of the beautiful game, I look ahead two months to Brazil and say that if Ireland cannot be at the World Cup Finals, then I will raise a glass to England to go all the way.

And just in case there are some in the audience not prepared to go quite that far, then I will ask all of you to join me in this toast:

- to the gracious Lord Mayor;

- to this great city of London;

- to this great nation of Britain;

- and to the great friendship between our two peoples.

President Higgins UK Visit

Imeoidh an tUachtarán Ó hUiginn ar an gCéad Chuairt Stáit Chuig an Ríocht Aontaithe

Imeoidh an tUachtarán Micheál D. Ó hUiginn agus a bhean, Sabina Higgins, inniu (Dé Luain, 7 Aibreán) ar an gcéad Chuairt Stáit ag Uachtarán Éireann ar an Ríocht Aontaithe. Soláthrófar lánonóracha míleata agus iad ag imeacht ó Áras an Uachtaráin at 2.30pm.


Déanfaidh an Ceann Foirne, an Leifteanant-Ghinearál Conor O’ Boyle agus an Ginearáloifigeach i gCeannas ar an Dara Briogáid, An Briogáide-Ghinearál Michael Beary, an tUachtar

Monday 7 April, 2014

11:30 a.m. Áras an Uachtaráin

President receives Dr Sathasivan (Saths) Cooper

2:30 p.m. Áras an Uachtaráin

President departs on State Visit to the United Kingdom (Military Honours)

Tuesday 8 April, 2014

From approximately 10.30am to approximately 2pm

(England) Irish Embassy, London

President and Sabina Higgins are greeted by The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall before departing for Datchet Road, Windsor

(England) Windsor

Ceremonial Welcome by HM The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh at the Royal Dais, Datchet Road

(England) Windsor Castle

President and Sabina Higgins attend lunch at Windsor Castle hosted by HM The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh

From approximately 3.30pm to approximately 10pm

(England) London

President visits Westminster Abbey and lays a wreath at the grave of the Unknown Warrior

(England) London

President delivers an address at the Palace of Westminster and attends a reception

(England) Windsor Castle

President receives Mr. Ed Miliband MP, the Leader of the Opposition

(England) Windsor Castle

President and Sabina Higgins attend a State Banquet hosted by HM The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh

Wednesday 9 April, 2014

From approximately 10am to approximately 1.30pm

(England) Windsor Castle

President views the colours of the disbanded Irish regiments

(England) London

President visits University College Hospital

(England) London

President visits The Royal Society

(England) London

Sabina Higgins visits RADA

From approximately 1.30pm to approximately 10pm

(England) Irish Embassy, London

Sabina Higgins attends an Irish design themed lunch hosted by Mrs. Greta Mulhall

(England) London

President attends lunch hosted by Prime Minister David Cameron at No. 10 Downing Street

(England) City Hall, London

President attends a Youth Event

(England) Buckingham Palace, London

President receives Mr. Nick Clegg MP, Deputy Prime Minister

(England) Guildhall, London

President and Sabina Higgins attend a banquet hosted by the Rt Hon Alderman Fiona Woolf, the Lord Mayor of the City of London and Mr. Nicholas Woolf

Thursday 10 April, 2014

From approximately 9.30am to approximately 1.30pm

(England) Wytham, Oxford

President visits FAI Farms Ltd.

(England) Newbury

President visits Park House Stables, Kingsclere

From approximately 5pm to approximately 10pm

(England) St. George’s Hall, Windsor Castle

President and Sabina Higgins attend a Northern Ireland themed reception hosted by HM The Queen

(England) Royal Albert Hall, London

President and Sabina Higgins attend a concert entitled ‘Ceiliúradh’ (Celebration)

Friday 11 April, 2014

From approximately 10am to approximately 1.30pm

(England) Windsor Castle

President and Sabina Higgins are farewelled by HM The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh

(England) Stratford-upon-Avon

President visits The Royal Shakespeare Company

(England) Stratford-upon-Avon

President visits Shakespeare’s Birthplace

From approximately 1.30pm to approximately 3pm

(England) Coventry

President visits Coventry Cathedral

(England) St. Mary’s Guildhall, Coventry

President attends an Irish community reception hosted by Cllr Gary Crookes, The Lord Mayor of Coventry

4:45 p.m. (Dublin) Casement Aerodrome, Baldonnel

President returns from State Visit to the United Kingdom (Military Honours)

Irish Bestsellers 10/04/2014


1. The Fault in Our Stars

2. Philomena

3. The Book Thief

4. Survivor

5. The One Plus One

6. A Husband’s Confession

7. Dear Ross

8. First We Take Manhattan

9. Divergent

10. With All My Love


1. Philomena

2. The Husband’s Secret

3. Gone Girl

4. The Fault in Our Stars

5. The Spinning Heart

6. The Goldfinch

7. One Cold Night

8. The Casual Vacancy

9. The Book Thief

10. The Wolf of Wall Street

President Michael Higgins Addresses UK Parliament

President Michael D Higgins addresses both houses of parliament at Westminster

President has addressed the chamber in Westminster

“Mr. Speaker, Lord Speaker,

Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister,

Leader of the Opposition and distinguished guests:

I am delighted to be with you today.

A Chairde:

Tá fíor-chaoin áthas orm bheith anseo libh.

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

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

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

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.

Go raibh míle maith agaibh go léir”.


Source: RTE News Player Online 8/4/2014


President Higgins Speech At Windsor Castle, UK – 9/4/2014

Toast by President Higgins at State Banquet, Windsor Castle


Toast by Michael D. Higgins, President of Ireland

State Banquet, Windsor Castle

8.40pm approx Tuesday, 8th April 2014

A Shoilse Banríon, A Mhórgacht Ríoga:

Your Majesty, Your Royal Highness:

Thank you for your kind and generous welcome and for the warm hospitality you have extended to me, to Sabina and to our delegation.

That welcome is very deeply felt and appreciated by me, and by the people of Ireland, whom I represent. However long it may have taken, Your Majesty, I can assure you that this first State Visit of a President of Ireland to the United Kingdom is a very visible sign of the warmth and maturity of the relationship between our two countries. It is something to be truly welcomed and celebrated.

Your Majesty:

You famously used some words of Irish during your State Visit to Ireland. Today I would also like to draw from the oral tradition of our ancient language a seanfhocal, or wise saying, often applied to the mutuality of relationships. It observes simply:

“ar scáth a chéile a mhairimíd.”

Because scáth literally means shadow, this phrase is sometimes translated as –

“we live in the shadow of each other.”

However, there is a more open and more accommodating meaning. Scáth also means shelter.

The word embodies the simple truth that physical proximity brings with it an inevitability of both mutual influence and interaction. But more importantly, I believe, it implies reciprocal hospitality and generosity; the kind of generosity reflected in your words this evening that encourages us to embrace the best version of each other.

Ireland and Britain live in both the shadow and in the shelter of one another, and so it has been since the dawn of history. Through conquest and resistance, we have cast shadows on each other, but we have also gained strength from one another as neighbours and, most especially, from the contribution of those who have travelled between our islands in recent decades.

The contribution of Irish men and Irish women to life in Britain, which Your Majesty has acknowledged with such grace, is indeed extensive and lends itself to no simple description. It runs from building canals, roads and bridges in previous decades, to running major companies in the present, all the while pouring Irish personality and imagination into the English language and its literature.

Like so many of our compatriots, Sabina and I feel very much at home when visiting Britain, which should be the case with our nearest neighbour and our close friend.

Tonight we celebrate the deeply personal, close neighbourly connection which is embodied in the hundreds of thousands of Irish and British people who have found shelter on each other’s shores.

Your Majesty:

History evolves, if we are fortunate, into greater mutual understanding between peoples. The welcome that is so naturally afforded to British visitors in Ireland today was, I think, wholeheartedly expressed on the occasion of your State Visit in 2011.

Your gracious and genuine curiosity, your evident delight in that visit, including its equine dimension, made it very easy for us to express to you and, through you to the British people, the warmth of neighbourly feelings. It laid the basis for an authentic and ethical hospitality between our two countries.

Admirably, you chose not to shy away from the shadows of the past, recognising that they cannot be ignored when we consider the relationship between our islands. We valued your apt and considered words when you addressed some of the painful moments of our mutual history, and we were moved by your gestures of respect at sites of national historical significance in Ireland.

These memorable moments and these moving words merit our appreciation and, even more, our reciprocity. While the past must be respectfully recognised, it must not imperil the potential of the present or the possibilities of the future – ar féidireachtaí gan teorainn – our endless possibilities working together.

This present occasion, which completes a circle begun by your historic visit three years ago, marks the welcome transformation in relations between our countries over recent years – a transformation that has been considerably progressed by the advancement of peace in Northern Ireland.

We owe a great debt to all of those who had the courage to work towards, and make manifest, that peace. I wish to acknowledge here the remarkable contributions of my predecessors Mary Robinson and Mary McAleese. I am especially pleased that former President McAleese, and her husband Martin, are here with us this evening.

We must, however, never forget those who died, were bereaved, or injured, during a tragic conflict. As the French philosopher Paul Ricoeur wrote, to be forgotten is to die twice. We owe a duty to all those who lost their lives, the duty to build together in peace; it is the only restitution, the only enduring justice we can offer them.

We share, also, the imperative to be unwavering in our support of the people of Northern Ireland as we journey together towards the shelter and security of true reconciliation. We celebrate what has been achieved but we must also constantly renew our commitment to a process that requires vigilance and care.

Your Majesty:

We have moved on from a past where our relations were often troubled, to a present where – as you have indicated – Ireland and the United Kingdom meet each other in mutual respect, close partnership and sincere friendship. That friendship is informed by the many matters of mutual interest in which we work together and support one another.

In recent times we have seen our two Governments working ever more closely together in the European Union and in the United Nations. We have seen deepening partnership in the area of trade,as well as in development aid where we both share a common commitment to tackling hunger and upscaling nutrition.

The future we each desire, and seek to work towards is one where Ireland and the United Kingdom stand together to seek common opportunities and to face common global challenges as partners and friends.

Your Majesty:

Ar scáth a chéile a mhairimíd. The shadow of the past has become the shelter of the present. While we grieve together for lost lives, we will not let any painful aspect of our shared history deflect us from crafting a future that offers hope and opportunity for the British and Irish people.

We again thank you for the hospitality that allows us, on this most joyous occasion, to celebrate the bonds of mutual understanding between our two peoples, and the warm, enduring friendship on which we have so happily embarked.

I therefore invite you, distinguished guests, to stand and join me in a toast:

To the health and happiness of Her Majesty and His Royal Highness, and the people of the United Kingdom;

To a creative cooperation and a sustainable partnership between our countries and our peoples; and

To valued neighbours whose friendship we truly cherish.

Go raibh maith agaibh go léir.

The full text of Queen Elizabeth’s speech to the State Banquet in Windsor Castle

Mr. President,
Prince Philip and I are delighted to welcome you and Mrs. Higgins to Windsor Castle.
The Castle was founded by William the Conqueror almost a thousand years ago. And a thousand years ago this very month, across the Irish Sea, Brian Boru, the most celebrated of Ireland’s High Kings, lost his life at the battle of Clontarf. Yet, despite ten centuries of intervening history, Windsor Castle has had to wait until today to see a formal visit to this country by a Head of State of Ireland.
Prince Philip and I recall our visit to Ireland with great pleasure.
We were received warmly wherever we went. Dublin; the city of Cork and its English market; Ireland’s historic landmarks like the Rock of Cashel; your people’s famous hospitality — and, of course, Ireland’s thoroughbred horses — all these and much more left a happy and enduring impression.
But even more pleasing, since then, is that we, the Irish and British, are becoming good and dependable neighbours and better friends; finally shedding our inhibitions about seeing the best in each other.
Our two governments have responded to the change in mood. We now cooperate across the full range of public business; indeed, there is today no closer working relationship for my Government than that with Ireland.
This fresh spirit is helping us economically: our trade is growing, supporting many thousands of jobs in both countries, and we are working together to win new business overseas.
As our countries enter a period of historical resonance, it is right to look back in remembrance. In Dublin, I laid wreaths in the Garden of Remembrance for those who died in the cause of Irish freedom and at Islandbridge where Ireland’s dead from the First World War are commemorated.
In August, we will mark solemnly the centenary of Britain’s entry into World War One, calling to mind the terrible toll it took. People from Ireland were involved in all the major campaigns and battles of the war. We will remember and honour their contribution and sacrifice, just as we remember our own.
My family and my government will stand alongside you, Mr. President, and your ministers, throughout the anniversaries of the war and of the events that led to the creation of the Irish Free State.
People have moved freely between these islands over the centuries.
Britain has been hugely enriched by the migration of Irishmen and women to these shores.
The contribution of Irish people to Britain has reached into every walk of British life. On your visit, you are meeting men and women of Irish descent in parliament, in our universities, in our health service, in the civil service, music, faith, business, and sport.
And yet, over the years, many Irish migrants to Britain encountered discrimination and a lack of appreciation. Happily, those days are now behind us, and it is widely recognised that Britain is a better place because of the Irish people who live here. We can celebrate not just the Irish men and women who helped to build Britain but also the Irish architects who helped to design it, including that great architect of parliamentary reform, Daniel O’Connell, whose life and work you will have remembered this afternoon on your visit to Parliament.

Ireland’s New UHI Scheme & Local Doctors

The New UHI Health Care System & Your GP By Annette J Dunlea

There are about 2,500 General Practitioners, or GPs, in Ireland, working in group practices, primary care centres, single practices and health centres around Ireland. Most GPs in Ireland are private practitioners, but the majority of GPs provide services on behalf of the HSE, to people with Medical Cards, GP Visit Cards and other schemes. Most GPs also provide immunisation services free to patients on behalf of the HSE, and through the Mother and Infant Care Scheme, some visits during pregnancy are also paid for by the HSE. People who don’t have a Medical Card or GP Visit Card will pay a fee for a GP visit. In Ireland, there are a range of schemes in place to assist people with the cost of visiting the GP or the cost of medication. He plays a central role in the health care system and is often the first medical advice a person seeks when they feel unwell provide a broad service to their patients on all health issues, and may refer patients to see specialists or hospital consultants if more specific investigation is required. GPs play a central role in the health of our community, caring for people from birth and childhood, through to older age and end of life care. If your GP refers you for a public out-patient appointment, to a public hospital for an x-ray or blood test, or to an Emergency Department, you will not be charged for the hospital services. If you go directly to an Emergency Department without a GP referral, there is a charge for the service. If you don’t have a medical card you pay €50-€80 per visit to a GP. A home call which many refuse to do costs extra. If you have a medical card, then your GP is visit is free. Once you are resident in Ireland, you are automatically entitled to public health care. You can also pay for private health insurance. General Practitioners who manage general practices during these difficult economic times are seeing massive changes in the areas of health reform and new national standards. Things are tough for GPs at the moment but then the Government releases for ‘consultation’, not negotiation a new GP contract for the provision of care, free at the point of use, for all children under six years of age. Sending shock-waves across the profession, the draft GP contract has been described as “unworkable in its entirety” and “not deliverable” with current available manpower, infrastructure and resources. Accurate data on primary care activity is key to any health services planning and reconfiguration, which showed that UHI will indeed have considerable workload implications for general practice.

The IMO has warned that 150 general practices could shut down in the near future due to funding cutbacks by the HSE. The National Association of General Practitioners has expressed concern about the impact of cuts to the allowances GPs receive for treating medical card holders. The association’s AGM at the weekend heard HSE payments to family doctors under the General Medical Services scheme have been cut by as much as 33% in recent parsonage chief executive Chris Goodey said GPs were facing a very challenging time as a result of dramatic cuts imposed on their practices. Mr Goodey claimed funding received for treating patients with medical cards were used by doctors to pay for the surgery, heat, light, rent equipment, staff and services. “Unless funding to general practice is significantly increased in the short term, 150 general practices across every county in the country face the real risk of imminent closure.” He called on the Government to put greater resources in place to support family doctors. Mr Goodey claimed there is a need for 500 new GPs in order to begin the process of bringing the number of family doctors into line with the OECD average. Ireland had half as many GPs per head of population as the average across all OECD countries and just a quarter of the pro rata number of GPs in Australia. Meanwhile, the Irish College of General Practitioners criticised the Government for pushing ahead with its plans towards universal free healthcare without proper consultation with GPs. ICGP chairperson Dr Mary Sheehan said doctors were witnessing the hardship caused by the removal of medical cards in their surgeries on a daily basis. GPs warn that the Government is attempting to fundamentally alter General Practice system without negotiation. Extension of GP cards to children under-6s is a “trojan horse” for an assault on terms and conditions of all doctors in General Practice. It is apparent, even from a preliminary review, that these proposals will: significantly increase clinical workload. Increase the number and complexity of consultations. .Seriously undermine the clinical independence of General Practitioners. Require additional resources in infrastructure, staffing levels both medical and administrative. Impose a range of new responsibilities on GPs.

The amendments will give the HSE unprecedented access to otherwise confidential patient information. The amendments will exacerbate the crisis in GP resourcing. Coming on top of a withdrawal of €160 million from GP services over the past few years. The amendments will restrict the ability of GPs to call-out the HSE for errors and risks and re-enforce a culture of secrecy across the health services. The IMO are calling on Minister Reilly and Minister White to cease the practice of threatening GPs with legislation and immediately commence real negotiations.”The Government is prepared to negotiate “meaningfully” with the Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) on all aspects of the proposed contract for the provision of free GP care for children under the age of six, with the exception of fees, according to the Minister of State at the Department of Health Alex White. In a confidential letter sent to the organisation, the Minister said the setting of fees for the service “must remain a matter for the Minister for Health”.Mr White said there would be an opportunity for the IMO to have an input on fees and the fee structure to apply as part of a separate consultation process. The Minister said he was aware of the legal proceedings between the Competition Authority and the IMO which were listed for hearing in the High Court at the end of April. He said he did not want to comment on the specifics of the case.

Minister Reilly signalled the GP fees would be broadly in line with those currently available for treating other patients under the GMS or medical card scheme. GPs are currently paid a capitation rate of €75 per annum for children up to four years old and €43 for five-year-olds, plus an extra 10 per cent superannuation. However, a lesson from the recent consultants’ contract is that GPs can sign up to any commitment with the HSE with an agreed fee and the HSE will hold them to that commitment and unilaterally impose massive reductions on any payments, so providing the service becomes a non-viable business proposition. Currently, hospital medicine is not considered a viable proposition for new entrants. Hopefully it is a situation we do not want repeated into the general practice context.

A GP was also a small-to-medium entrepreneur responsible for running a small business and this entailed provision of resources, including electricity, insurance cover, etc. there were, in fact, up to 50 items that come into this. That time, effort, financial management, human resources management and business acumen is done free outside practice hours. It cannot be done while delivering 40 hours of face-to-face care to patients. Due to the current economic climate GPs have become more aware of costs. Certainly as income falls, cuts and savings need to be made to ensure the effects to profits are minimal. While doctors were not increasingly falling behind on their tax payments, there certainly was a greater awareness amongst the profession towards meeting tax liabilities. To be fair GPs and primary centres should be exempt from property tax. They are offering a public health service. The government should compromise on this. All these costs have risen in recent years but their salaries have not kept pace. Irish GPs are an ageing population, as a lot of young practitioners are opting to work abroad. They are facing less paying customer, many have being granted medical cards and have high overheads and staffing costs. Most GP practices have had to cut back on clerical nursing and hours of service owing to the economic recession and reductions in fees. There are less hours in general practice than there were two or three years ago. It is just the natural result of changing economic realities on the ground. This is worrying as UHI would indeed have considerable workload implications for Irish general practice. The research showed that if private patients were to attend GP consultations at the same rate as GP-visit-card patients, an increase of 4.4 million consultations per year in general practice workload could be anticipated. This is well in excess of figures currently used by the Government in planning for the provision of universal primary care.

The GP was also a team leader of colleagues in the practice for which he was responsible, both for clinical activity and insurance. A GP receives an average of just €10 per month per medical card patient regardless of how often that patient attends the GP. The system is already stretched with cuts imposed of €160 million at a time when 400,000 additional patients are being cared for by GPs. Over the past few years the Government has significantly reduced payments to GPs and other contractors providing healthcare services to the State under a series of measures imposed on foot of financial emergency legislation. The vast bulk of GPs operating the GMS scheme are paid annual capitation fees for each patient on their list. In addition they can receive out-of-hours payments for non-routine consultations outside of normal working hours. .Special fees are payable for a range of additional services such as excisions, suturing, vaccinations, catheterisation and family planning. Other supports which GPs can receive include study leave, and annual leave as well as payments for practice nurses and locums. The Government intends to give power in legislation to the Minister for Health to set fees and allowances paid by the State to GPs. I think all doctors fees and chemists, public and private, should be regulated by law. They should be printed on walls. In fairness, compared to tds and senior civil servants pay and expenses they are earning modest salaries. However, they do have their private patients as well. In 2009 the HSE paid fees to doctors ranging from sums €15,285 – €531,336. In 2010 they paid between €16,162 – €521,585. Out of this the doctors would haveto pay their taxes, staff, supplies, rent and bills. It is not their profit. The state paid €2,038,880 in 2009 in investment in private practice, and another €2,883,733 in 2010. In 2013 The HSE allowed €323 million for primary health care schemes.

In the HSE’s own report entitled: HSE Finance Shared Services Primary Care Reimbursement Service there is a list of all GPs fees. It is it states a Schedule of fees and allowances payable to doctors participating in the general medical services scheme and other community schemes. It came into effect from 1st September 2008.Capitation fees Inclusive of supplementary Out – of – Hours fees is €4.09. The Capitation rate of €308.77 per annum for persons aged 70 years or over in the community requiring a Medical Card for the first time regardless of income. A Capitation rate of €978.08 per annum will apply to anyone aged 70 years or over in a private nursing home, approved by HSE, for any continuous period of five weeks. Capitation Rates for persons 70 years or over are effective from 1st January 2009. A Medical Practitioner shall be remunerated by way of Capitation Payment in respect of a person on his/her list in a Home for the Aged and may claim an Out-of-Hours fee for Emergency Services provided out of hours. Homes for the Aged per 3 hour session €93.47. Fee for Second Medical Opinion are €33.79. .A once-off super-annuable registration fee of €194.84 per relevant patient will be paid to doctors in respect of each such patient on their GMS Scheme panels. There is a rural practice allowance per annum of €20,712. A dispensing doctor earns an extra €48.58. Fees and allowances payable under capitation agreement contributions to locum expenses. Leave entitlement is dependent on panel size. Annual leave is €251.92 per day or €1,763.44 a week. Medical Practitioners with Patient Panels of between 100 and 700 shall be entitled to Sick Leave Payment equivalent to their Capitation Earnings during the second and subsequent consecutive 24 weeks and half that amount for the second period of 26 weeks. In addition to the standard 26 weeks a Medical Practitioner with a panel of 500 or more who is approved by the HSE for Maternity Leave may also avail of an additional 16 weeks on grounds analogous to those in the Maternity Protection Act, 1994. Adoptive leave entitlement is as follows: 24 weeks paid Adoptive Leave and 16 weeks unpaid Adoptive Leave. Doctors with Panels of 1200 or more have extra entitlements. This is subject to relevant practice experience. Secretarial Subsidy with at least 1 years experience is €23,843.21 rising to €27,817.07 depending on experience. With those with panels of 1200 or more there are more allowances, subject to relevant practice experience. The Nursing Subsidy with at least 1 years experience is €35,764.82 up to €43,712.55. There is a practice manager subsidy of €35,764.82. There is a refund of medical indemnity insurance premium but the calculation of refund is related to GMS panel numbers and nett premium. A supplementary allowance is payable in respect of: rostering and Out-of-Hours arrangements, practice maintenance equipment and development and Secretaries and/or nurses. Locum and Practice Expense Allowance Per Annum is €1,751.22. The Rural Practitioners Allowance Per Annum is €8,995.70. They also get petrol allowance for home visits.


(i) K Excisions/Cryotherapy/Diathermy of Skin Lesions €28.65

(ii) F Suturing of Cuts and Lacerations €28.65

(iii) H Draining of Hydroceles €28.65

(iv) G Treatment and Plugging of Dental and Nasal Haemorrhages €28.65

(v) J Recognised Vein Treatment €28.65

(vi) M ECG Tests and their interpretation €28.65

(vii) N Instruction in the fitting of a Diaphragm €28.65

(viii) R Pneumococcal Vaccination €42.75

(ix) S Influenza Vaccination €42.75

(x) T Pneumococcal/Influenza Vaccinations €64.12

(xi) U Hepatitis B Vaccination €154.13


Universal Health Insurance (UHI) is a new system of healthcare which the Government plans to introduce by 2019. It will make our health service both fairer and more affordable by eliminating Ireland’s current two tier health system and creating in its place a single tier health service which merges the public and private systems. Many of the best healthcare services in the world are built around the idea of universal insurance. The Government plans to create a single-tier model of UHI in Ireland which will incorporate the best of what works in other countries, adapted to Ireland’s specific circumstances. The Government has examined a number of UHI systems including those in the Netherlands and Germany. The Government is determined to control costs under this model and is committed to staying within agreed public expenditure limits. A series of measures will be put in place to manage costs including the establishment of a Healthcare Pricing Office which will help set prices for treatment under UHI. Under UHI everyone will have mandatory insurance and their choice of insurer. No distinction will be made between “public” or “private” patients since every individual will be entitled, unlike the current system, to the same standard package of care. Treatment will be on the basis of medical need rather than an individual’s ability to pay. Insurers will be obliged to accept everyone regardless of age or health status and will compete for business on the basis of price and service. The current public/private split in Ireland’s system of healthcare is both unfair and unaffordable. It is unfair because public and private patients are treated differently. Private patients can, in certain circumstances, get faster treatment than public patients. It is unaffordable because the existence of two parallel health systems, covering public and private patients, has delivered significant duplication and inefficiency. The result is a national health service that it is overly expensive given Ireland’s relatively young population. Significant savings have already been made in the public health system over the last few years. However, further long term savings and efficiencies can be made without affecting frontline services by merging the public and private systems into a single tier health service. This will improve economies of scale across the national health service and allow needless duplication to be removed. While it is a great and fair concept there is clearly a need for consultation with the doctors, the local GPs and the patients warn of surgeries being “overwhelmed” by 4 million additional patient visits if plans for free GP visit for all are introduced. The GP Committee of the IMO has warned that GP surgeries will be “overwhelmed” by patients if the Government pursues its current objectives of introducing free GP visits for all citizens without any increase in resources for General Practice.

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Saving Money

Don’t Waste Money By Annette J Dunlea

The EU Commission has stated that resource efficiency means producing more value using less material and consuming differently. This will limit the risks of scarcity and keep environmental impacts within our planet’s natural limits.” Currently, we are consuming 1.5 Earth’s worth of natural resources. This is just not sustainable. We are running out of rare earth elements which are essential for the manufacture of electronic goods such as mobile phones, tablets and laptops. Once we extract and use them without adequate methods to recapture these elements, they are lost in the waste stream. These are non-renewable resources. Additionally, we are overusing our renewable resources such as food and water in a way that the whole system is under huge stress. What does this have to do with stretching our budget? If we can change our consumer habits, we will find more money in our pockets while protecting valuable resources. When we repair or reuse what we have or buy something already refurbished, not only do we wisely use extracted natural resources, but we save money at the same time. If 50,000 people in Ireland reduce food waste by just 1 kilogram per week, just over €1 million will be saved. Food should be valued otherwise its easily thrown away. You may wonder how to stretch that budget while still living within your means. Resource efficiency is the best way to save money while saving the environment and its valuable natural resources.

Saving money is one of those tasks that’s so much easier said than done. There’s more to it than spending less money. How much money will you save, where will you put it, and how can you make sure it stays there? Follow along to learn how to set realistic goals, keep your spending in check, and get the most for your money. Kill your debt first. Simply calculating how much you spend each month on your debts will illustrate that eliminating debt is the fastest way to free up money. Once the money is freed from debt payment, it can easily be re-purposed to savings. Plus, the sooner you pay off debt, the less interest you’ll pay, and that money can be saved instead. If you choose to start saving before you completely pay off your debt, however, look into consolidating your debts so that you’re not paying as much interest. If you don’t already have an emergency fund, you should start contributing to one immediately. Set savings goals. For short-term goals, this is easy. If you want to buy a video game, find out how much it costs; if you want to buy a house, determine how much of a down payment you’ll need. For long-term goals, such as retirement, you’ll need to do a lot more planning, and you’ll also need to figure out how investments will help you achieve your goals. Establish a time-frame. “I want to be able to buy a house two years from today. Set a particular date for accomplishing shorter-term goals, and make sure the goal is attainable within that time period. If it’s not attainable, you’ll just get discouraged. Figure out how much you’ll have to save per week, per month, or per pay check to attain each of your savings goals. Take each thing you want to save for and figure out how much you need to start saving now. For most savings goals, it’s best to save the same amount each period.

Here are some handy recession-busting ideas: use what you buy. Before going food shopping, try making a menu, bringing a list and only buying what you will need for the next few days. Always reuse your leftovers for lunches or for quick snacks. This will save you money both in the purchase of food and in rubbish bin fees. Refurbish what you have instead of buying a new product. Why not paint that table or wardrobe and add some new handles or knobs. Often, those old pieces of furniture are better made than the flat pack ones. Additionally, you can get old furniture at house auctions, and You can get an even better deal through where you can get all sorts of things for free, from cookers to gardening equipment. You just have to pick the item up. If you want to paint your old table, you can purchase inexpensive paint through a paint membership from where for €30 per annum, you can choose up to 50 litres of reclaimed paint. Paint your house while you’re at it! Try buying items, like presents online, they are often cheaper.

Biking around to shops, school and work saves money that would have been spent on petrol, bus/train fares and fitness clubs. Cycling is great exercise and if you don’t have a bicycle, you can find second hand bikes through the their websites, or wander over to Rothar, which recycles and refurbishes unwanted bicycles into custom-made ready to go bikes. Visit car boot sales for cheap items to recycle. Additionally, if you have items clogging up your house, why don’t you pack up your car and try your hand at selling to make a few Euros. Whatever you don’t sell can be donated to a charity shop or put on the Freetrade Ireland website. Don’t Buy Bottled Water: This is the biggest waste of money and resources. For the most part, Ireland has good drinking water. What do most people do when they have finished their bottle? Throw it away! Not only are we buying something we get for free out of the tap, but we promote the use of a petro-chemical product which is later discarded. This is a complete waste. Try investing in a BPA-free water bottle and keep it with you. Ask for tap water when in restaurant, its cheaper and easier on the environment.

If you have a broken screen on your i-phone or your hoover is not sucking up the dog hairs, instead of buying new, take these items to be repaired. There are repair shops all around the country. This way, you spend less, provide employment and do your part for resource efficiency. How about trying that repair yourself? You tube is an incredible source for do-it-yourself instruction videos. Research all your costings even your weekly shop. Look for the cheapest store in your town or village: Aldi and Lidl always give great value for money. It is amazing how many Irish products these stores now sell. Irish stores don’t necessarily sell all Irish products. I shopped in an Irish owned store the other day and spend €81 but only €18 of these were Irish made. I always try to buy Irish products but it is not often easy to spot. The teabags label read packaged In Ireland and its the same for some meat and frozen products! alot, of the store’s own label goods came from the UK! Avoid the takeaways and convenience foods. Make fresh meals from scratch and buy in season. Take-away, frozen, pre-packed or ready-meals can work out a lot more expensive than making fresh meals yourself. Meals made from scratch are generally healthier too. If you don’t have time to cook every day, make several meals at the one time and freeze them on days off and at the weekends. Buying raw, whole fruit and vegetables can be a lot cheaper than buying prepared ones, as you are paying for someone else to do the washing and chopping for you. Fruit and vegetables can be more expensive when bought out of season and are usually imported. Buying seasonal fruit and vegetables means you get the best quality, locally produced food at a lower price, and you help support Irish producers. Buy only what you need. Don’t buy too much of items that may go off. Plan meals and make a shopping list of what you need. The best-known brands can be the most expensive, but this does not necessarily mean that they are “better” than others. You might make savings by choosing a less well-known brand or own-brand product and use your store card to gain points for vouchers. Look out for local promotions. Centra in Little Island has a members card and regular customers get a percentage off selected items on display of their Centra card! Shop around warranties for TV and washing machines and these are cheaper outside store with insurance companies. Note the smaller items you purchase are not worth insuring like hoovers and irons. Don’t shop for fun, its an expensive hobby! Check hems of skirts and trousers to see if they can be let down. If the uniform still fits but is fading, dye it. Consider buying second-hand schoolbooks. Packed lunches for school children prepared at home are not only cheaper than shop-bought lunches – they are often more nutritious. Lunch box products targeted at children can contain large amounts of salt and sugar and generally work out more expensive. A little time spent planning your family’s weekday lunch menu before you do the shopping can reduce food wastage and save you money.

Keep a record of your expenses. Note how much you make and how much you spend. Since you have more control over how much you spend, it’s wise to take a critical look at your expenses. Write down everything you spend your money on a daily basis. Be as detailed as possible, and try not to leave out small purchases. Assign each purchase or expenditure a category such as: Rent, Car insurance, Car payments, Phone Bill, Sat TV Bill, Utilities, Gas, Food, Entertainment, etc. Keep a small notebook with you at all times. Get in the habit of recording every expense and saving the receipts. Sit down once a week with your small notebook and receipts. Record your expenses in a larger notebook or a spreadsheet program. There are also many apps you can download to your phone that will help you keep track of your expenses. Trim your expenses. Take a good, hard look at your spending records after a month or two have passed. You’ll probably be surprised when you look back at your record of expenses: take away coffee, pizzas, wine, parking etc? You’ll likely see some obvious cuts you can make. Depending on how much you need to save, however, you may need to make some difficult decisions. Think about your priorities, and make cuts you can live with. Calculate how much those cuts will save you per year, and you’ll be much more motivated to pinch pennies. Can you move to a less expensive apartment or house? Can you refinance your mortgage? Can you save money on gas or get rid of the car altogether? If your family has multiple cars, can you bring it down to one? Can you get a better price on insurance? Call around and make sure you are getting the best price you can. Consider taking a higher deductible, too. Shop the discount racks at clothing stores. Items on clearance are marked down considerably and could save you 50% of the price. Can you drop a land line and either only use your cell phone or save money by calling over the internet for free with services such as Skype? Can you live without cable or satellite TV? Opt for Saorview , that’s enough TV for most people. However, if you can not do without the UK channels you can get a box with The Irish and UK channels for a once off payment. Can you cut down on your utility bills? Ring around and get quotes for electricity, refuse collection and oil. Goodbye eating out, once a while go to the chipper or get a pizza at home. Whatever your hobby is look around for the cheapest way to do it. If you love movies get Netflix. If you are a reader join the public library. If you like to travel think of getting a caravan or a tent and joining the Irish organisation and get recommendations and discounts for them.

For most of us, electricity and gas bills make up a significant percentage of our household spending but making a few simple changes can lead to big savings. Some examples include reducing your heating to a lower temperature, only heating as much water as you need, servicing your boiler regularly to avoid breakdowns and unplugging all non-essential electrical appliances. If you think you are paying too much for your electricity or gas services, you can consider switching to a new provider. Switching is easy and more importantly, it is free! Insulating your home is an easy and cost-effective way to save money on your heating bills. For example, insulating your attic can cut your heating bills by up to 20%. .Water heating is one of the most expensive electricity costs in the home. You can save money by only heating as much water as you need. Install a timer control switch for your hot water tank if you don’t already have one. Reduce your heating to a comfortable 20°C. Lowering your thermostat by just 1°C can knock 10% off your heating bill. Installing a lagging jacket can save you up to €2.50 a week in water heating costs and can pay for itself within three months. You should have your boiler serviced every year to help ensure it is safe, that it operates most efficiently, and to help avoid breakdowns. Modern boilers are far more efficient and cost effective than older versions. Remember, it is illegal for anyone other than a Registered Gas Installer to service your natural gas boiler. Registered Gas Installers have completed safety training, conform to Irish standards and have insurance. Find a Registered Gas Installer at A lot of heat can be lost through your windows, particularly if they are single-glazed. If you are buying new windows, do some research – more efficient windows can save you more in energy costs over their lifetime. Block up leaks and drafts, particularly around windows, doors and the roof. Never block vents in your rooms as fresh air is needed. Use heavy curtains, preferably lined ones, to keep in warm air. Close curtains at night, even in empty rooms. Open the curtains during the day to let in the heat from the sun. Make sure that curtains don’t hang over radiators as that will block heat getting into the room. With open fires, 70% of the heat gets lost up the chimney. Installing a stove instead of an open fire will use less fuel and give out more heat, saving you money on your heating bills. If you are not using open fires for long periods, prevent draughts from the chimney by getting a chimney balloon from a DIY shop.

Reassess your savings goals. Subtract your expenses, the ones you can’t live without, from your take-home income. What is the difference? And does it match up with your savings goals? Stop using credit cards. Pay for everything with cash or money orders. Don’t even use cheques. It’s easier to overspend when you’re pulling from a bank or credit account because you don’t know exactly how much is in there. If you have cash, you can see your supply running low. Pay yourself first. Savings should be your priority, so don’t just say that you’ll save whatever is left over at the end of the month. Deposit savings into an account or your piggy-bank as soon as you get paid. An easy, effective way to start saving is to simply deposit 10% of every check in a savings account.

Where can you go if you have serious debt problems? Make a list of all your current debts. List your debts in order of priority, starting with your mortgage or rent, utility bills and any ongoing medical costs you have. You need to pay these first because you could be at risk of losing your home, being evicted having your gas or electricity disconnected, or becoming ill. Then look at your other debts such as credit card debt, overdrafts and personal loans. List your debts in order of the highest annual percentage rates (APR). The highest APR loans should be paid after your mortgage or rent, utility bills and medical costs. Make a new budget/check your entitlements. Work out how much you can afford to repay each week or month and learn how to spread your money to get more from it. Read our money makeover and budget planning section to help you. Make sure you are claiming all that you are entitled to. Depending on your income, circumstances and mortgage, you may be eligible for mortgage interest supplement, mortgage interest tax relief, other occupation related tax relief and more. The following sites are good starting points: Revenue, Department of Family and Social Affairs and Citizen’s Information. Contact your lenders to discuss your options. If you are worried about your loan repayments, contact your lender as soon as you can to explain your situation. Have all of your facts and figures to hand – including your list of debts, rates and how much you still owe on each. Outline to your lenders how much you can afford to repay each week or month using your budget. Discuss options your lender may allow including: debt consolidation, payment breaks, or extending the term of your loan. This will make your loan more expensive in the long term, but it will make things more manageable for you in the short term. Read up on the options, then contact your lender immediately. If you have a car bought under a hire purchase agreement, find out all your options. Where can you go if you have serious debt problems? The Money Advice and Budgeting Service (MABS) is funded by the Citizens Information Board and provides free, independent and confidential debt advice and money management services.

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Mother’s Day Poems

Emily Dickinson
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Nature — the Gentlest Mother is,
Impatient of no Child —
The feeblest — or the waywardest —
Her Admonition mild —
In Forest — and the Hill —
By Traveller — be heard —
Restraining Rampant Squirrel —
Or too impetuous Bird —How fair Her Conversation —
A Summer Afternoon —
Her Household — Her Assembly —
And when the Sun go down —

Her Voice among the Aisles
Incite the timid prayer
Of the minutest Cricket —
The most unworthy Flower —

When all the Children sleep —
She turns as long away
As will suffice to light Her lamps —
Then bending from the Sky —

With infinite Affection —
And infiniter Care —
Her Golden finger on Her lip —
Wills Silence — Everywhere —

Mother's Day Poem

M – O – T – H – E – R
M” is for the million things she gave me,
O” means only that she’s growing old,
T” is for the tears she shed to save me,
H” is for her heart of purest gold;
E” is for her eyes, with love-light shining,
R” means right, and right she’ll always be,
Put them all together, they spell
A word that means the world to me.
Howard Johnson (c. 1915)

And Grandma’s too…
While we honor all our mothers
with words of love and praise.
While we tell about their goodness
and their kind and loving ways.
We should also think of Grandma,
she’s a mother too, you see….
For she mothered my dear mother
as my mother mothers me.
Author Unknown

Mother’s Quotes

A man loves his sweetheart the most, his wife the best, but his mother the longest. - Irish Proverb

Mother–that was the bank where we deposited all our hurts and worries. - T. DeWitt Talmage

Don’t poets know it, Better than others? God can’t be always everywhere: and, so, Invented Mothers. - Sir Edwin Arnold

Mothers hold their children’s hands for a short while, but their hearts forever. - Anonymous

The heart of a mother is a deep abyss at the bottom of which you will always find forgiveness. - Honoré de Balzac

The mother’s heart is the child’s schoolroom. - Henry Ward Beecher

No gift to your mother can ever equal her gift to you–life. - Anonymous

Hundreds of dewdrops to greet the dawn; Hundreds of lambs in the purple clover; Hundreds of butterflies on the lawn; But only one mother the wide world over. - George Cooper

Now that … my kids are grown, I understand how much work and love it takes to raise and to keep a family together. The example of your strength, devotion, and patience is now rippling through the generations. Thank you! - Forest Houtenschil

Biology is the least of what makes someone a mother. - Oprah Winfrey

A mom’s hug lasts long after she lets go. - Anonymous

Who ran to help me when I fell, And would some pretty story tell, Or kiss the place to make it well? My mother. - Ann Taylor

On Mother’s Day I have written a poem for you. In the interest of poetic economy and truth, I have succeeded in concentrating my deepest feelings and beliefs into two perfectly crafted lines: You’re my mother, I would have no other! - Forest Houtenschil

Mother is the name for God in the lips and hearts of little children. - William Makepeace Thackeray



Irish Bestsellers List 28/3/2014

Paperback Bestsellers

1. The Fault in Our Stars

2. The One Plus One

3. The Book Thief

4. The Spinning Heart

5. Philomena

6. Divergent

7. First We Take Manhattan

8. Dear Ross

9. With All My Love

10. Gone Girl

eBooks Bestsellers

1.Philomena by Martin Sixsmith

2.The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty

3.Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

4.The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

5.The Spinning Heart by Donal Ryan

6.The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

7.One Cold Night by Katia Lief

8.The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling

9.The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

10.The Wolf of Wall Street by Jordan Belfort