On Friday, the President of Ireland released a Christmas message to Irish people around the world.

In the message, Higgins acknowledged that “Christmas will be different this year,” as the Irish government advises against non-essential travel this holiday season and other restrictions are put in place globally due to COVID.

Christmas lights were also turned on at the president’s residence Áras An Uachtaráin in Dublin’s Phoenix Park last week. The display showcases a river of light streaming from the light for the Irish diaspora on the first floor of the Áras, stretching out to “all the Irish people and all those who cannot be with their families for Christmas.”

Here is the president’s Christmas message:

Mar Uachtarán na hÉireann, ba mhaith liom beannachtaí na Nollag a ghuí ar mhuintir na hÉireann ar fud an domhain.

 Is pribhléid é dom i mbliana beannachtaí a chuir chugaibh, teaghlach domhanda na hÉireann, atá gaolta de réir ár nÉireannachas coiteann, idir cultúr, stair agus oidhreacht, cibé áit ina bhfuil tú, agus cibé chúinse. Ba bhliain dhúshlánach í dúinn go léir, ach bhí sí níos deacra do dhaoine áirithe.

May I send my warmest Christmas greetings, as Uachtarán na hÉireann, President of Ireland, to all our extended Irish family across the world.

Wherever you may be, and in whatever circumstances, as Ireland’s global family connected by our shared Irishness, its culture, heritage and history, it is a privilege to send greetings on what has been a difficult year for all of us, but some more than others.

Christmas this year will, by necessity, be a different Christmas to that with which we are familiar. At this time of year, it has long been the practice of workers, friends and families to gather together to socialise and celebrate. So many friends and family from abroad looked forward to returning home to catch up on family and local news and of course to experience and share the excitement and joy that, for so many, Christmastime represents.

Regrettably, so many of these traditional Christmas activities will not take place in 2020, or will have to be severely curtailed, owing to COVID-19. This is yet another disappointment to be added to the personal, social, economic and indeed cultural consequences of a pandemic that has resulted in so much tragedy since it enveloped the world earlier this year.

May I suggest, however, that the COVID crisis should not mean that we cannot have a Christmas of resonance this year, one that we will remember in the future. With a little imagination and goodwill, we can all make Christmas 2020 a Christmas to remember for all the right reasons. I suggest we do so on the basis of good citizenship.

At #ÁrasAnUachtaráin, President HIggins and Sabina lit a river of light, streaming from the Light for the #Diaspora on the first floor, across the grounds, and out to all the Irish people and all those who cannot be with their families this Christmas. pic.twitter.com/Eg3ddDZ0Ib

— President of Ireland (@PresidentIRL) December 10, 2020

This Christmas presents us with an opportunity to make a profound reflection on the importance of strengthening our determination to continue with our efforts to take care, to suppress the virus and, in doing so, demonstrate solidarity with our essential workers and with each other, so that we all prevail with our health protected and with the essentials of our social and economic interactions recovered with the minimum of risk.

The principles that guide us in our renewed commitment can be sourced in those fundamental values that represent the best of ourselves, such as solidarity, care, compassion, kindness, sensitivity. These values have been generously demonstrated by so many of our citizens over the past year as the public health crisis unfolded.

We continue to share the grief of those who have lost loved-ones, and share the anguish of those whose lives and livelihoods that have been impacted adversely. We feel for the loneliness being experienced by those who have been separated from contact with those who previously sustained them. This is all the more poignant at Christmastime. We must acknowledge, too, that for so many the loss of the social, economic and recreational practices that were their links to life in its rich totality is near devastating. We must encourage each other and draw strength from that.

As we connect to our wider Irish family and to the many friends of Ireland who celebrate Christmas with us, from far and wide, in perhaps equally unusual circumstances, let us also resolve to embrace all of our responsibilities as global citizens, and to work with fellow citizens across all continents for a more equal, just and sustainable world; a world that, with all our endeavours, can reject violence in all its forms, and redoubles its efforts to end global poverty, exploitation and exclusion.

Yes, 2020 has been a gruelling year for all of us and a tragic year for so many, but let us recall that, while it is important never to forget that Christmas marks the birth of Jesus Christ, it also marks the beginning of longer, lighter days, and is thus a powerful symbol of hope, a beacon of better days to come.

May I wish all those who share this island, be they Irish people by birth or descent, or those who have a connection with Ireland, wherever they may be in the world, and all those fellow global citizens who are friends of Ireland, a happy and peaceful Christmas.

Ba mhaith liom Nollaig Shona agus síochánta a ghuí ar gach duine ar an oileán seo, Éireannach ó dhúchas, daoine a bhfuil baint acu le hÉirinn ar gach cearn den domhan, agus na saoránaigh dhomhanda ba chairde na hÉireann iad ar fud an domhain.

Nollaig shona agus athbhliain faoi mhaise daoibh.

Christmas Message to the Diaspora from President of Ireland Michael D. Higgins

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