President Mary McAleese has said that the people of Ireland are "worth much, much more than to be defined by this economic crisis", as part of her  "warmest Christmas and New Year greetings" to Irish families in Ireland and around the globe.

The President stressed the importance of self-belief and determination in respect to building Ireland’s future.

She predicted that many people gathered for the holidays would inevitably speak about Ireland’s financial problems "which have brought hardship and heartache into many a home", she said.

"Mustering the self-belief and determination that will reinvigorate our country psychologically and economically is now an imperative," Mrs McAleese said.

"Our history has given us resilience in the face of adversity and maybe it's time to remind ourselves that we do indeed have many strengths to help us on the journey ahead."

Mrs McAleese highlighted the shared "meitheal of good neighbourliness, solidarity and volunteer generosity" among Irish people.

"We are a people rich in imagination, creativity, innovation and problem-solving skills," she said.

Mrs McAleese also remarked on "the gift of peace" that had "already transformed life on our shared island" and the "extraordinarily loyal global Irish family".

"Above all, we have a talented and ambitious cohort of young people who deserve the gifts of confidence in their future and pride in their country," she added.