It is important that “each person is free to express their sexuality, gender or relationship,” said Michael D Higgins as he took on another term of the presidency of Ireland.
He also warned that “inequalities are deepening” and vowed to be a president “for all of the Irish people” when he was sworn in last night in Dublin Castle.
Higgins also thanked the people of Ireland for reelecting him, saying “I want to thank you, the people of Ireland, for the honour you have again bestowed on me, an honour I accept with all the energy of mind and heart that is required for the trust your mandate has placed on me.”
Vowing to tackle divisive politics and the rise of populism, Higgins said, “There are some contemporary cultural influences that may be dismissive of any responsibility towards the needs, opinions or experience of others and there can… be too much emphasis on division and domination rather than reflection or understanding.
“These are tendencies we must not allow to take root. They, if unchecked, can undermine the warmth of our Irishness and stifle those decencies of the heart that have enhanced our lives, filled our imagination, and contributed so much to our reputation and experience.
“It is important that we seek to reach always for the best of ourselves and the best of what we might become, and that we allow that to guide our collective ambition for our country.”
Higgins also touched on Women’s issues, saying, “We must confront and challenge any excuses offered for the denial of the irreducible right, of women who make up, let us not forget, a majority of humanity on this planet.”
Higgins will begin his second term in Áras an Uachtaráin after he won the presidential race with 56% of the votes, with controversial candidate Peter Casey coming in second with 23%.
All of the other former candidates were present last night, as well as former presidents Mary Robinson and Mary McAleese, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and ministers Simon Coveney, Katherine Zappone, Simon Harris, and Paschal Donohoe.
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