|Ireland's President Michael D Higgins wants to hear from the Diaspora|
The President’s landmark series of Young & Irish seminars may nearly be at an end (the final seminar takes place this weekend in Galway) but there is still a chance for young Irish people abroad to have their say on the burning issues affecting them, with the deadline for submissions
to The President being the 29th
September. In fact, that’s why the seminars are so-called.
Speaking to a small group of reporters (of which I was one) on Saturday in Monaghan, President Higgins revealed that originally the title of the series was Young in Ireland, but was amended to facilitate the great throngs of young people who have since left the country and to make sure they were not forgotten. Higgins takes his role as President of all the people of Ireland very seriously and is confident that the emigration of now is not the same as that of the 50’s or 80’s, due in no small part to the advances in technology. He said that Ireland’s young people abroad, no matter how let down by the country they’ve felt, are determined not to turn their back on the country and noted that submissions to him both foreign and domestic were very similar in tone and scope. No matter where they were, young Irish people’s hopes and dreams for the country were one and the same.
One thing that has been remarkable about the seminars so far is the way in which the young people attending have responded to the President, and how he responded to them. During the day he said that no young person wanted anything at the expense of anyone else, they just wanted a better Ireland. In a world where young people are often portrayed as selfish, wanton and inert, it goes a very long way to hear someone in authority say that as clearly as President Higgins. Young people respond to him because of the clear respect he shows them, and his want and need to go to bat for young people is clear.
And ultimately, that is what we all, not just young people need: someone to go to bat for us. To fight our corner. To be an assuring force in a very uncertain world. The scope of the Being Young & Irish seminars is very wide and everything from education and innovation to tourism, sport and national pride have been mentioned in the discussions, and they’re vitally important things. But, the world could be instantly made better with two things taken into consideration: that your opinions and aspirations as a citizen no matter your status matters, and that the hard work and effort you do to express them and make it real is appreciated. President Higgins knows this, and lives this.
All over the world, young people from Ireland are currently living and working, trying to make their way in the world, but not giving up hope on the country from whence they came. If you’re one of those young people, The President wants to hear from you, and though your vision for Ireland might be several years down the road, Michael D Higgins wants to travel it with you.