New Irish president Michael D Higgins met with 300 Irish community leaders in New York last night and asked them to help “make an Irishness of which we can be proud”.

He told the audience that “Irish people are hurting from the recession” and are “dismayed that the transient, artificially-based, property-based economic bubble...has turned into ashes”.

Higgins was elected to the seven-year term in October and this is his first visit to the US as President.

Higgins was guest of honor at a reception which, because of the numbers, was held on the ground floor of the building that houses the Irish Consulate in New York.

Hundreds stood in line waiting to meet the new Irish president who is on a six-day visit to New York and Boston.

Higgins also spoke of the “righteous anger” that Irish people feel “that various institutions and individuals betrayed the trust placed in them”.

He stated that Ireland had gone through  “a period of deep distress...economic uncertainty and the scourge of high levels of unemployment”.

He stated that despite that Ireland was in a recovery mode from the recession and he stated that there was “encouraging news” about the country.

The president has 25 events lined up over the time of his trip. On Tuesday night he will speak at the American Irish Historical Society, in New York, while earlier meeting with Mayor Michael Bloomberg and  UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

He will attend a Broadway showing of the Irish musical “Once” on Wednesday night and the American Ireland Fund dinner on Thursday night, which will also feature Brian Moynihan, the CEO of Bank of America.

In Boston he will speak at the Famine commemoration event there as well as at the Self Help Africa ball.

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