This week Dáil Eireann celebrated 100 years since its first sitting in 1919. At the excellent centenary celebration in The Mansion House, the site of the first Dáil meeting, Uachtarán na hÉireann Micheal D. Higgins delivered an empassioned speech in English and Irish. The President spoke about the formation of the first Dáil and how issues that Ireland faced then still need attention now. In particular he said:
"The destiny of our country, the fate of our Irish revolution, now lies in the hands of this generation of Irishwomen and Irishmen. It falls to us, the Irish people, to forge a renewed vision of Irish freedom in the world today. It is happening with a recognition of the power of creativity in arts, science, peace-keeping and shared global concern.
The same challenges that confronted the revolutionary generation still abide with us today.
We struggle to meet the needs of all of our people, even as our republic remains marred by inequalities in power, wealth, income and opportunity, mí-cothromaíocht. Poverty subsists amidst plenty, even as we fail to provide some of our citizens with the basic elements of a dignified existence within our republic – housing, healthcare, education, support for those with particular needs.
Today, across the world, we are witnessing the return of an ugly, xenophobic corruption of nationalism, long since thought vanquished from our political life.
The duty to welcome and shelter those fleeing war, persecution, and famine, so often relied upon by Irish men and women throughout the ages, is now being openly disdained, even discarded, by elements in our European Union.
True nationalism addresses need, not only as part of a nation, but as part of an international family of nations."