A YEAR IN REVIEW 2019
UACHTARÁN NA hÉIREANN THE PRESIDENT OF IRELAND A 2019 IN REVIEW
President Higgins addressing the United Nations General Assembly in New York, September 2019. Photo: United Nations
2019 IN REVIEW
CONTENTS Foreword 04 The Head of State
A Welcoming Home
Ireland's Voice Abroad
The 'Centenarian Bounty'
Finances and Governance
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KEY KEY NUMBERS NUMBERS 2019 2019
Bills signed into law
State and Constitutional Events
482 ‘Centenarian Bounty’ messages sent
124 Appointments to the Defence Forces
Counties in which the President attended community events
Heads of State received at Áras an Uachtaráin
Receptions and seminars 154 for organisations and citizens groups
Speeches and keynote addresses Meetings with Ambassadors presenting their Letters of Credence
Irish Ambassadors appointed
Sports related events attended, including 35 major sports events
Events for the Irish diaspora
Events hosted or attended under the three Special Initiatives
Visitors received at Áras an Uachtaráin
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Special Centenary Sitting of Dรกil รireann, January 2019
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FOREWORD May I thank the people of Ireland, Muintir na hÉireann, and all the people and organisations that played a part in the events contained in this review, for their continued support and for their sustained energy and hard work towards the realisation of a future of equality, inclusion, creativity, and sustainability.
In November 2018, I had the honour of being reelected as President of Ireland. Then, as now, I wish to thank the people of Ireland for the honour, responsibility and mandate they have given me – a mandate I have accepted with humility, determination and commitment. I seek to be a President for all of the Irish people, wherever they may be and in whatever circumstances. During the campaign I undertook, among other commitments, to become the first President of Ireland to publish an annual review that would detail the work and scope of the Office of the President of Ireland.
Michael D. Higgins Uachtarán na hÉireann President of Ireland
In December 2018, my Office published ‘The Presidency in Review, 2011-2018’, the first detailed overview of the work of the Office of the President of Ireland since the Presidency was established in 1938. The current report builds further on the commitment to greater transparency and accessibility by providing an overview of the engagements, visits and expenditure of the past year, as well as their constitutional and thematic context. The review complements the wealth of information already published on the website www.president.ie, that illustrates the work of the President of Ireland and provides a review of the thematic priorities indicated in my work. This publication will, I hope, give an insight into the work of the Office of the President and contribute to a greater understanding of the functioning of the President’s Establishment and the many people and organisations – including Government Departments and State bodies such as the Office of Public Works, An Garda Siochána and the Defence Forces – that provide vital support to me as President, and to the workings of Áras an Uachtaráin.
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Words matter. Words can hurt. Words can heal. Words can empower. Words can divide. Acceptance Speech, Dublin Castle, 28 October 2018
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THE HEAD OF STATE
Welcoming King Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima of the Netherlands during their State Visit to Ireland, June 2019
On many of his visits abroad, the President works with bodies such as Enterprise Ireland, IDA Ireland, Culture Ireland and Tourism Ireland, to assist companies seeking new markets.
The Irish State is a republic and its Head of State is the President, who is elected directly by the people. The Office of the President was established by the 1937 Constitution (Bunreacht na hÉireann) and the President’s role and powers are prescribed in the Constitution.
Representing the nation
Along with Dáil Éireann and Seanad Éireann, the President forms part of the Oireachtas and has a legislative role to consider and sign bills passed by the Houses of the Oireachtas. The President also appoints the Taoiseach and members of the Government, judges and nominees to several senior public positions.
In addition to performing his formal tasks, the President also plays an important role representing the entire Irish nation. As principal representative and leader of the country, the President not only personifies Ireland on the international stage but also symbolises Ireland’s identity, values, priorities and aspirations.
The President’s diplomatic role includes receiving foreign Heads of State and ambassadors, and undertaking visits abroad where the President represents Ireland at the highest level.
By speaking on behalf of the nation at times of national or international tragedy, or at times of celebration, the President can give voice to the feelings of the people of Ireland. Furthermore, by highlighting the work and achievements of people and organisations, the President can acknowledge important contributions to our society, and draw attention to specific themes or activities.
The President’s influence has important diplomatic benefits, strengthening Ireland’s influence at multilateral organisations such as the United Nations, but also economically, helping to open doors for Irish companies, academics and artists. 6
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Greeting the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall at the Glencree Centre for Peace and Reconciliation, May 2019
President Higgins delivered the prestigious Aristotle Address at the ancient Stoa in Athens, October 2019
Welcoming Ambassadors to รras an Uachtarรกin, January 2019
At the invitation of President Pavlopoulos of Greece, President Higgins participated in the October 2019 meeting of the Arraiolos group of EU Heads of State, meeting in Athens.
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Highlighting achievements and special themes Through his regular interaction with communities and organisations throughout Ireland, and through private meetings with a wide range of people, the President ensures he stays abreast of all kinds of developments in the country, and by hosting events at Áras an Uachtaráin the President can draw attention to the work of civic organisations or important social and cultural events. President Higgins has structured this aspect of his work along a number of themes, combined in three special initiatives:
With some of the performers at the Fleadh Cheoil in Drogheda. President Higgins is a regular visitor, as well as the Patron, to the Fleadh Cheoil. Photo: Jenny Matthews
Participation and Transformation – Focusing on ways to change spaces and systems so that everyone in Ireland is encouraged and empowered to participate in processes that shape our future together. Imagination and the Nation / Samhlaíocht agus An Naisiún - Highlighting the importance of art and creativity in Irish life and celebrating its power to engage, challenge, transform and empower. Shared Ireland, Shared Island – This initiative is aimed at sparking discussions on how we can all thrive on the island of Ireland, while living in harmony with respect for our complex history.
Meeting visitors to the Fleadh Cheoil, August 2019. Photo: Jenny Matthews
President Higgins thanking first responders, August 2019. Photo: Jenny Matthews
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In offering a vision for the next seven years during the election, I spoke of a real Republic as being a life lived together, one where there is a commitment to equality, to strong sustainable communities, to the sharing of history and to shaping of the future together; recognising our vulnerabilities, drawing on and enhancing our individual and collective capacities. Inauguration speech, Dublin Castle, 11 November 2018
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Enrolment of the Constitution, November 2019
Legislation If the Supreme Court finds that the Bill, or any part of it, is unconstitutional, the President declines to sign the Bill and it is not enacted. However, if the Court holds that the Bill is constitutional, the President signs the Bill and it becomes law. In this situation, under Article 34 of Bunreacht na hÉireann, the constitutionality of this legislation, or the provision of the bill that had been referred to the Supreme Court cannot be challenged at a later stage.
During 2019 President Higgins considered and signed 54 Bills into law. The Houses of the Oireachtas (Dáil Éireann and Seanad Éireann) are responsible for passing legislation, but it is not until Bills are signed by the President that they become law. The President’s role in this context is to consider whether Bills presented to him are compatible with the Constitution.
Though it has never happened, the Constitution provides that where disagreement exists between the Dáil and the Seanad, members of the Oireachtas may petition the President not to sign a Bill, on the grounds that it contains a proposal of such national importance that the will of the people should be sought, in the form of a referendum. Such a petition requires a majority of the Seanad and at least one third of the Dáil.
The President cannot veto a Bill simply because he doesn’t agree with its provisions, but where he has doubts over a Bill’s constitutionality, he can refer it to the Supreme Court to make a determination in this regard. The President, having consulted with the Council of State, may decide to refer a Bill to the Supreme Court.
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Bunreacht na hÉireann
the President and shall be enrolled for record in the office of the Registrar of the Supreme Court.” The Constitution states that “the copy so signed and enrolled which is for the time being the latest text so prepared shall, upon such enrolment, be conclusive evidence of this Constitution as at the date of such enrolment and shall for that purpose supersede all texts of this Constitution of which copies were so enrolled.”
In November 2019, President Higgins formally signed an updated version of the Constitution, reflecting the changes that have been made to it since 1999. This was the 6th time in the history of the State that such an “Enrolment” took place. Under the terms of article 25.5 of Bunreacht na hÉireann, “from time to time” a new copy of the Constitution “authenticated by the signatures of the Taoiseach and the Chief Justice, shall be signed by
Earlier such enrolments took place in 1938, 1942, 1980, 1990 and 1999.
Previous enrolments took place in 1938, 1942, 1980, 1990 and 1999.
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Council of State In April 2019, President Higgins presented Warrants of Appointment of seven incoming members of the Council of State. The Council of State is a body created by the Constitution, whose principal function is to advise the President. Article 31 of the Constitution provides that ‘there shall be a Council of State to aid and counsel the President on all matters on which the President may consult the said Council in relation to the exercise and performance by him of such of his powers and functions as are conferred on the said Council by the Constitution.’ The Council is composed of the Taoiseach, Tánaiste, Chief Justice, President of the Court of Appeal, President of the High Court, the Ceann Comhairle, the Cathaoirleach of the Seanad, the Attorney General, former Presidents, Taoisigh and Chiefs Justice, and up to seven members appointed by the President. The members appointed by President Higgins are: · Dr. Cara Augustenborg, environmental policy fellow and climate change advocate · Ms. Sinéad Burke - academic, teacher, writer and inclusion advocate · Dr. Sindy Joyce – Human Rights defender and academic, and the first Mincéir in Ireland to graduate with a PhD · Mr. Maurice Malone - CEO of the Birmingham Irish Association · Dr Johnston McMaster - academic, theologian and lecturer in peace and reconciliation studies and social ethics. · Dr. Mary Murphy - Associate Professor in Irish Politics and Society and equality activist. · Mr. Seán Ó Cuirreáin - former journalist, broadcaster and Irish Language Commissioner.
Transformation and participation takes work, requires courage and determination. It is about how we engage and interact with each other, how we speak to each other in a way that is open yet respectful of difference. Inauguration speech, Dublin Castle, 11 November 2018
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Presidential Distinguished Service Awards for the Irish Abroad
President Higgins with the recipients of the Presidential Distinguished Service Awards, November 2019.
Each year, President Higgins presents the Presidential Distinguished Service Awards to a number of people who live outside Ireland and who have given exceptional service to this country or to Irish communities abroad.
Charitable Works · Fr. Patrick Clarke (Brazil) ·
Irish Community Support · Jackie Donohoe (USA)
The Awards were created in 2011 as a means to recognise the contribution of members of the Irish diaspora, and the first Awards were presented by President Michael D. Higgins in 2012.
Peace, Reconciliation and Development · Sally O’Neill Sanchez (deceased - Honduras) Science and Technology · Jocelyn Bell Burnell (Britain)
The 2019 recipients were: Arts, Culture and Sport · Ian Gibson (Spain) ·
William Howlett (Tanzania)
Throughout his term in office, President Higgins has emphasised the global nature of Ireland’s cultural heritage, the significance of the diaspora and the common history and identity we share “despite the borders, oceans and miles that may separate us”.
Charlotte Moore and Ciaran O’Reilly (USA)
Business and Education · Paul Drechsler (Britain) ·
Bernard Lynch (Britain)
Michael Kenneally and Rhona Richman Kenneally (Canada) 13
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A WELCOMING HOME
Students of Scoil Chill Ruadháin Brooklodge visiting Áras an Uachtaráin, May 2019
In the past year, the President hosted more than 150 public receptions and seminars for organisations and citizens groups. Details of all these events are available on the President’s website, www.president.ie
Since his first inauguration in 2011, and again at the beginning of his second term, President Higgins made it clear that he wants to use his Presidency to promote greater reflection on the challenges facing Irish society – and greater ambition in addressing them.
The President also invited hundreds of people to private meetings at Áras an Uachtaráin, for discussions on their experiences and to encourage them to continue their activities.
By hosting events at Áras an Uachtaráin, the President has sought to celebrate the work and achievements of individuals and organisations that represent the type of action that the President believes is now required.
The President also travels in Ireland, to visit organisations that play an important role in society. During 2019, the President attended some 230 such public events across Ireland. The majority of these events were acknowledging the achievements of local or national community organisations, highlighting the importance of education and youth empowerment, or celebrating cultural or historic events. The President also attended 128 State or ceremonial events.
The groups and people that the President has invited to his home have in common that they are using their energy and resources to build a better Ireland, in which everyone is included and cared for, and where all citizens are invited to take part in the decisions that affect them.
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GARDEN PARTIES The Garden Parties, a tradition initiated by the first President of Ireland, Douglas Hyde, are an opportunity for the President and Sabina Higgins to open up Áras an Uachtaráin and pay tribute to people and organisations that have made a difference and whose work reflects the thematic priorities of the Presidency. In the summer of 2019, more than 4,000 people from across the island, and from all walks of life, attended the events in the gardens of Áras an Uachtaráin. The year’s themes were: · The Centenary of the First Dáil · Celebrating Family Life · Promoting Gender Equality and Respect for All / Sustainable Development Goal 5 · Bloomsday – Celebrating Screen And Film Production · Organisations and Volunteers Working With Refugees and Asylum Seekers · Participation and Transformation – Celebrating USI and Macra Na Feirme The President and Sabina also hosted a special concert, in celebration of Irish Country Music and in acknowledgement of the work being undertaken by various organisations in fostering, and developing, strong rural communities throughout Ireland.
President and Sabina Higgins greeting members of the St. Nauls Pipe band, at the Dáil 100 Garden Party
Family Day Garden Party, June 2019
By hosting a Garden Party marking the centenary of the first sitting of Dáil Éireann, in 1919, President Higgins invited guests to celebrate the creation of the Dáil, and the successes and potential of our democracy.
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At the concert celebrating Irish country music, June 2019
Family Day Garden Party, June 2019
Welcoming Carmel Ryan and her son Vincent to Áras an Uachtaráin, at the Dáíl 100 Garden Party
Trudy Maher was one of the President’s guests at an event celebrating youth advocacy and activism, May 2019
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Muintir na hĂ‰ireann, I have said that a real republic requires a wide embrace -Â generous, inclusive, moved by an empathy that sees difference or diversity not as sources of division but as a strengthening of our social fabric and potential sources of an ever-deeper richness in friendship, mutuality, possibility, recognising transcendent concerns and rooted in a shared humanity. Empathy can and must inform our relations with neighbours near and far. Inaugural address, Dublin Castle, 11 November 2018
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More than 22,000 people visited Áras an Uachtaráín during 2019
Working in a protected structure
Tours of Áras an Uachtaráin
Áras an Uachtaráin, built in 1751, is in constant need of maintenance and expert conservation works. Caring for a building that is almost 270 years old is a complex and delicate task, and all repairs have to be made respecting not only the traditional material and building techniques but also 21st century safety standards.
Áras an Uachtaráin is both the official and private residence of the President of Ireland. Since taking office, President Higgins has made efforts to welcome citizens to the Áras, both as invitees to events he has hosted and by facilitating guided tours. The tours are organised by the Office of Public Works and take place almost every Saturday. The tours are free of charge.
In the past year, maintenance work was required on the main entrance hall, the Council of State Room and the library, and in September repairs were needed to remedy water damage to the walls and ceilings of the main building. These works are undertaken by the men and women of the Office of Public Works.
Since the beginning of 2019, special Irish Sign Language facilitated tours have also been organised. Like the scheduled Saturday tours, tickets for these events are allocated from the Phoenix Park Visitors Centre at Ashtown Castle, on a first-come first-serve basis.
President Higgins also asked the OPW to undertake a full audit of energy use, waste management, water management and of biodiversity within the grounds of Áras an Uachtaráin with a view to improving the Environmental Performance of the Áras, within the context of a protected and historically significant building.
Visitors to Áras an Uachtaráin can now also undertake a tour of the new visitor centre in the house, which was completed in 2019. The visitor centre provides an interactive overview of the history of the Áras, the role of the Presidency and the background to each of the nine Presidents of Ireland.
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Artist Imogen Stuart at the installation of Pangur Bán at Áras an Uachtaráin, December 2019
In 2019, work commenced to enable the positioning of an art installation at Áras an Uachtaráin. The ‘Pangur Bán’ art work, by renowned Irish artist Imogen Stuart, was brought in sections from University College Dublin to the home of the President, where it was reassembled for its unveiling in January 2020. The 1976 art installation is based on a 9th century poem, written in Irish in a manuscript found in the monastery of St. Paul in Austria. The poem has captured the imagination of many artists, and many authors have undertaken translations of the poem into English. The installation by Imogen Stuart is the latest in a series of public art works brought to Áras an Uachtaráin by President and Sabina Higgins, including the sculpture commissioned for the centenary of the 1916 Rising, ‘Dearcán na nDaoine – The People’s Acorn’ by Rachel Joynt, and ‘The Plough and the Stars’, made by sculptor John Behan.
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IRELAND’S VOICE ABROAD As Head of State, an important part of the President’s role is to represent Ireland on the world stage. President Higgins has made it his aim to engage with Irish people worldwide. On his foreign visits during 2019 to Cyprus, Germany, Greece, Lebanon, the United Kingdom and the United States – President Higgins met with representatives from a diverse range of Irish people and organisations, thanking them for their efforts and expressing his appreciation for the way Irish people continue to represent Ireland abroad. During the year, President Higgins continued his work strengthening Ireland’s international reputation, and highlighting the importance of increased global cooperation to address the challenges of our time. At his meetings with international organisations, President Higgins re-affirmed Ireland’s commitment to the international, rules-based, multilateral system, arguing that, as a small State, Ireland’s sovereignty and economic well-being is enhanced, not diminished, by our participation in international organisations. In September 2019, President Higgins addressed the United Nations General Assembly, to underscore the importance that Ireland attaches to the UN and the multilateral system, and to call for urgent action on global challenges such as climate change and the promotion of peace.
Wreath laying on Martyrs’ Square in Beirut, October 2019
In his speech, the President said that Ireland had anchored its foreign policy to the UN, which the President called a “special institution where newly free nations found a home after their struggles for independence, their emergence from the shadows, legacies and distortions of imperialism.” During his visit to the UN, President Higgins had over 20 bilateral meetings with other Heads of State or Government. Later in the year, in October, the President met with 13 fellow non-executive Presidents, at a meeting in Athens of the Arraiolos Group of Presidents of EU Member States.
Meeting UN peacekeepers in Cyprus, October 2019
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Viewing the archive of the Irish in Liverpool, with Catherine Morris at the Liverpool Central Library, February 2019
Visiting Irish troops in South Lebanon, October 2019
Meeting the Federal President of Germany Frank-Walter Steinmeier in Berlin, during a State Visit to Germany, July 2019
Speaking with Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin, July 2019
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Welcoming Permanent Representatives of UN member states to รras an Uachtarรกin, November 2019
With UN Secretary General Antรณnio Guterres, at a UN meeting on the impact of climate change on small island states, September 2019
Visiting the Committee on Missing Persons in Cyprus, October 2019
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President Pavlopoulos of Greece invited President Higgins to undertake an Official Visit to his country in October 2019
State and Official Visits in 2019
During 2019, President Higgins met with a range of international organisations and international groupings of countries, including: • International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent (October) • Small Island Developing States (June, September) • UNHCR (July and November) • UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (October) • UNIFIL (October) • UNWRA (October) • World Food Programme (October) • World Tourism Organisation (June)
During 2019, President Higgins undertook State Visits to Germany (July; 20 events) and Cyprus (October; 11 events), and Official Visits to the United Kingdom (February; 11 events), United States (September; 26 events), Greece (October; 9 events) and Lebanon (October; 9 events). The President also hosted State Visits by the King and Queen of Sweden (May), the King and Queen of the Netherlands (June), and the President of Cuba (October), as well as an Official Visit by the President of the Seychelles (June).
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Meeting with 13 Heads of State at the Arraiolos Group Meeting in Athens, October 2019
inequality within societies.
The President of the Hellenic Republic, H.E. Prokopios Pavlopoulos invited President Michael D. Higgins to deliver the 2019 Aristotle Address in Athens.
In the summer of 2019, President Higgins undertook a State Visit to Germany - the first such visit by an Irish Head of State since 2008.
The Aristotle Address, which had previously been given by the President of Greece and UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, is the highlight of the annual Athens Democracy Forum, hosted under the auspices of the President of the Hellenic Republic and organised in cooperation with the New York Times, the United Nations and the City of Athens.
The State Visit was aimed at strengthening bilateral relations and promoting greater political and diplomatic cooperation at international level. President Higgins travelled to four federal States and met with leaders in the fields of politics, business, arts and science, receiving many expressions of support for Ireland and Irish perspectives.
In his address, which took place 18 months after the President’s State Visit to Greece, President Higgins spoke of the core concepts of democracy, and called for a new “ecological-social paradigm” to reverse social and environmental damage and to reduce
Federal President Steinmeier told President Higgins at the end of the second day of the three-day Visit: “If the role of the State visit is to strengthen the ties, to forge the bonds between two countries, between the people of two countries, your mission is complete.”
Ideas matter and history tells us that antiintellectualism has been, and remains, the weapon of authoritarian and anti-democratic forces in so many parts of our shared, vulnerable planet. Inauguration speech, Dublin Castle, 11 November 2018 24 2019 IN REVIEW
As we live through this period of seeking an exit from extreme individualism, a period where the concept of society itself has been questioned and redefined narrowly and pejoratively, when the public space in so many countries has been commodified, we must come together in co-operating and encouraging the merging of the consciousnesses of ecology, human need, dignity, respect for sources of truth and consolation, reasoned and revealed. Address to the Cypriot House of Representatives, October 2019
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With staff and residents of Clúid Housing Association, March 2018
Participation and Transformation
Achieving equality is not simply about opportunities for the individual, it is also about how we change our spaces and our systems to ensure they actively drive and encourage inclusion.
Muintir na hÉireann, I thank you again from my heart. This is your Presidency and I will work for you and with you towards a future of equality, participation, inclusion, imagination, creativity, and sustainability. It is together that we go forward.
This initiative therefore includes two complementary strands: One focusing on people and their participation; the second focusing on institutions and their transformation.
Inauguration speech 11 November 2018
President Higgins has made the promotion of a more inclusive society a cornerstone of his work, informed by his firm belief that everyone in Ireland has a valuable contribution to make and that society is strengthened when it supports, and is shaped by, a diversity of experiences and perspectives. Under the “Participation and Transformation” initiative, President Higgins attended or hosted a total of 28 separate events during 2019. The initiative champions the importance of participation and highlights the significant obstacles to participation faced by so many people. These obstacles include isolation, exclusion and discrimination.
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Imagination and the Nation / Samhlaíocht agus An Náisiún During 2019, President Higgins attended or hosted 27 events related to the “Samhlaíocht agus An Náisiún – Imagination and The Nation” initiative, which is aimed at highlighting the powerful and transformative role of art and creativity in the evolution of Ireland as a republic and an idea. The creative arts have often played an important role in bringing together the many strands of Ireland’s past, present and future, teasing through the tangle of history, taking up hidden threads in our social fabric and weaving new possibilities for the future. Art allows us to reflect on different lived experiences, past and present, bearing witness, bringing healing and calling to action. It is intrinsically inter-generational – allowing for connections and conversations to be forged and renewed in different times and changing circumstance. The Imagination and the Nation initiative is grounded in the themes President Higgins has put forward as part of his vision for Ireland, including Equal Participation and Sustainable Communities. It highlights the necessity of art and creativity in contemporary Irish life and its power to engage, challenge, transform and empower, and celebrates moments of collective creativity and vision-making – imagining and achieving a more equal republic and a better shared future.
Unveiling a sculpture in honour of Luke Kelly, January 2019
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Shared Ireland, Shared Island
safeguarding and deepening our warm relationships with the communities of Britain, Europe and the wider world, and his meetings and visits abroad have all been aimed towards strengthening international and inter-communal relations.
Helping to uphold respectful and peaceful relationships between the people and communities of this island is at the heart of the President’s “Shared Ireland, Shared Island” initiative.
President Higgins has invited thinkers from various backgrounds, communities and cultural groups to Áras an Uachtaráin, working to sustain positive relationships between everyone on this island, and with our neighbours. The ‘Shared Ireland, Shared Island’ initiative reflects the spirit and intent of the Good Friday Agreement and builds on its architects’ great work to ensure reconciliation remains central to our future notwithstanding the potential strains of international developments and political uncertainties.
The ‘Shared Ireland, Shared Island’ initiative is aimed at sparking an inclusive discussion on how we can all thrive on the island of Ireland, while living in harmony with respect for our complex history. In the past year, President Higgins attended or hosted nine events relating to this Special Initiative. Since his 2011 inauguration as President of Ireland, President Higgins has spoken of the importance of
Opening Áras Uí Chongaile in Belfast, April 2019. Photo: Kelvin Boyes
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Dr. Mary Murphy, Prof. Mariana Mazzucato and Prof. Ian Gough were guest speakers at the seminar on Rethinking the Role of the State, November 2019
Rethinking the Economy
Sustainable and Inclusive Economy', chaired by Dr. Mary Murphy of Maynooth University, which was intended as a founding discussion on how to promote the new â€œecological-social paradigmâ€? of which the President has been speaking, with a view to reversing social and environmental damage, reducing inequality and lessening the risks to social cohesion.
Since his inauguration in 2011, President Higgins has sought to promote greater public debate about societal change, engaging with a number of significant topics. One of those key themes has been the issue of economic policy, and policy-making. In many of his speeches, President Higgins has spoken of the importance of promoting greater understanding of, and public engagement with, economic policy, of decision-making processes, and of the policies that might replace those that have resulted in growing inequality and threats to the planet. With this new special initiative, the President is seeking to encourage spaces and actions that will facilitate the necessary steps towards new models of re-defined development, balancing economics, ecology, ethics and social cohesion.
In his presentation, President Higgins argued that we are asked to respond to a set of inter-connected crises, requiring a sharing of intellectual work and consciousness. Professor Gough outlined how an alternative paradigm, rooted in the concept of human need, can champion gender equality, and a fairer distribution of income, wealth and resources, and Professor Mazzucato discussed why economic theory needs to move away from a focus on fixing market failures, towards actively co-creating and shaping markets to deliver outcomes for the public good.
In November 2019, the President hosted a seminar on 'Rethinking the Role of the State in Fostering a
During 2019, President Higgins hosted or attended six other events related to this new initiative. 29
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Remembering the Great Flu Pandemic In May 2019, President Higgins hosted a seminar marking the centenary of the great flu pandemic of 1918-1919. Popularly known as the Spanish Flu, the 1918-1919 pandemic infected an estimated 500 million people worldwide - some 800,000 in Ireland - and killed 3-5% of the world’s population. The pandemic is estimated to have killed 23,00 people in Ireland. As Ireland marks the "Decade of Centenaries", highlighting the seminal events of the 1912-1922 period, President Higgins invited researchers, scholars and journalists to mark the Spanish Flu pandemic of a hundred years ago. The seminar was entitled 'Commemorating The Great Flu of 1918-1919' and featured contributions from President of Ireland Michael D. Higgins; Dr. Ida Milne, Lecturer in European History at Carlow College; Dr. Patricia Marsh, Curatorial in The Public Records Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI); and Professor Guy Beiner, professor of modern history in Ben-Gurion University of the Negev.
Gaisce – The President’s Award Gaisce - or ‘great achievement’ - is a self-development programme for people between the ages of 15-25. Founded in 1985, the programme is a direct challenge from the President of Ireland to young people in Ireland to do their utmost to make a difference in society. Since his first inauguration in 2011, President Higgins has been a strong supporter of the Gaisce programme, as part of his focus on active citizenship and the promotion of a more inclusive society, paying tribute to Gaisce volunteers for their community work and their support for civil society groups, and highlighting the important role of the President’s Award Leaders, who guide the young people in the development of their talents. Acutely aware of the importance of extending access to the programme, President Higgins has been encouraging Gaisce to place more emphasis on engaging with disadvantaged young men and women, by expanding the “President’s Challenge” programme to include people in detention and in direct provision centres. As well as presenting Gold awards to 77 young men and women in Dublin Castle in December 2019, in the past year President Higgins has also presented Gaisce participants with awards in the Midlands Prison and in Loughan House, and in June he invited representatives from the Irish Prison Service and Gaisce to Áras an Uachtaráin, to mark the growing collaboration between the two organisations.
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In February 2019, President and Sabina Higgins visited a memorial commemorating the Birmingham pub bombings of November 1974. The memorial in central Birmingham was designed by artist Anuradha Patel and features three metal trees carrying the names of the victims. The memorial was unveiled in late 2018 and was a project driven by the Birmingham Irish Association, with the support of victimsâ€™ families and Network Rail. In October 2019, President Higgins hosted an event for families campaigning for justice for the Birmingham bombing victims, and for representatives of the Glencree Centre for Peace and Reconciliation.
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Celebrating the work of Ireland’s women researchers, 8 March 2019
academic careers, or internationally renowned experts.
Each year President Higgins hosts an event to mark 8 March, International Women’s Day, and each year, the President chooses a different theme for this event.
Throughout the year, the President hosted a range of events aimed at encouraging and celebrating women’s empowerment, and he also paid tribute to organisations and initiatives aimed at reducing violence against women.
In 2019, President Higgins used the International Women’s Day event to highlight the work of women in the sciences. The reception at Áras an Uachtaráin aimed to apply the international motto for the day, ‘Balance for Better’, to the realm of academia, emphasising the benefit of diversity in academic work and paying tribute to the work of Ireland’s female researchers.
To mark the 16 Days of Action and the International Day for the Eradication of Violence Against Women in November, President Higgins hosted a reception for the International Women's Club of Dublin. The event was one in a series of events at which the President has highlighted the serious issue of gender based violence, and President Higgins used the reception to highlight the fact that each year, 50,000 women worldwide are killed by their partners or family members.
Internationally and in Ireland, women are largely underrepresented in science and academia, with only 30% of scientific researchers worldwide being women. Research suggest that various practices in academia are causing this gender inequality, including the organisation of academia and academic networking, the way academic excellence is constructed, and the lack of informal support systems for women. The 8 March event was aimed at addressing this latter point, by providing a place for women researchers to meet and share experiences. President and Sabina Higgins invited some 150 female researchers to Áras an Uachtaráin, in celebration of the value of science and the work of female scientists, whether they are young researchers at the beginning of their
Meeting the International Women’s Club of Dublin, November 2019
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President and Sabina Higgins visiting Listowel to celebrate its success in the Tidy Towns competition, May 2019
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THE ‘CENTENARIAN BOUNTY’ The tradition by which people who have reached their 100th birthday receive a gift from the State of €2,540 and a special message from the President of Ireland, wishing them a happy birthday and congratulating them for their longevity, was started in 1940 by President Douglas Hyde. In 2006, the Government decided to extend the eligibility criteria for the scheme so that all Irish citizens born on the island of Ireland are eligible to apply. Since 1 January 2000, the President of Ireland has also marked the birthday of people over the age of 100 years. On his or her 101st and every subsequent birthday, the person receives a special commemorative coin in a presentation box, along with a congratulatory letter signed by the President. A new coin is designed for each year. Their numbers are listed separately to the 2019 figures for the recipients of the Centenarian Message.
Centenarians’ Messages Issued 2019 Total Ireland Overseas
481 374 107
646 537 109
Coin 2019 Total Ireland Overseas
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Celebrating the Sustainable Development Goals, New York, September 2019
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FINANCES AND GOVERNANCE The Constitution of Ireland, Bunracht na hÉireann, established the Office of President, and the Presidential Establishment Act 1938 set out the role of the President and his/her associated allowances. The budget for the Office of the President is set by the Oireachtas, on an annual basis, under Vote 1. Spending under this heading is detailed annually in the Appropriation Account, which is independently audited and published by the Comptroller and Auditor General (C&AG). The Office of the Comptroller and Auditor General performs its audit under the authority conferred by the Comptroller and Auditor General (Amendment) Act 1993 and in accordance with applicable International Standards on Auditing (ISAs) as promulgated by the International Organisation of Supreme Audit Institutions and accounting rules and procedures laid down by the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform. The audit, through the reporting of the audit opinion, gives independent assurance that the Appropriation Account properly presents the receipts and expenditure of the Vote for the current year of account. Details of expenditure by the Office of the President are also published on the Áras an Uachtaráin website, www. president.ie. In 2019, these included €1,712,000 for salaries and wages, and €1,258,000 for the Centenarian Bounty, paid to people living in Ireland and Irish citizens living abroad who reach the age of 100 years. In € 1,000s 2018
Travel and subsistence
Training, Development and ICT
Salaries, wages and allowances
Post and Communications Office Machinery and Supplies Centenarian Bounty Appropriations-in-aid TOTAL
* Unaudited accounts. Final accounts will be published by the Office of the Comptroller and Auditor General. Staffing levels, and salaries of every member of the President’s staff, are set according to standard civil service pay scales and arrangements. All salary costs are paid from the general President’s Vote and are, therefore, reported to – and audited by – the Comptroller and Auditor General (C&AG) on an annual basis. The Internal Audit function for the President’s Establishment has rested with the Internal Audit Unit of the Department of An Taoiseach since 2012/2013. An audit committee, with members from within and outside the Áras, is in place to oversee expenditure under Vote 1. The Committee met four times in 2019 and the audit work programme agreed by the Audit Committee in 2018 was implemented in 2019.
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Allied Services The Office of the President is supported by a number of Government Departments and State Agencies. The Defence Forces and An Garda Síochána provide security and transport for the President and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade book and organise the President’s foreign travel. The Office of Public Works (OPW) look after the protected structure that is Áras an Uachtaráin and provide all the services required for the many events hosted at the Áras. The formal gardens, and the certified organic vegetable and kitchen gardens that provide fruit, vegetables and flowers for use at the many events hosted in Áras an Uachtaráin, are also managed by the OPW. Expenditure by Government Departments and Offices in support of the President and his activities is approved annually by the Houses of the Oireachtas under the budgets of the relevant Government Departments and Offices, and reported upon by the Comptroller and Auditor General on an annual basis.
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1938 Allowance The annual presidential allowance of €317,000 per calendar year exists to support the work of the Presidency. The allowance has been in existence since 1938, under the terms of the Presidential Establishment Act 1938, and has been available to every President since then. The current amount was set in 1998 (under S.I. No. 67/1998). The allowance is used to meet additional costs not covered elsewhere in the President’s Vote and assists in enabling each President to define his or her Presidency. In recent years, the allowance has been used to support hospitality for the approximately 20,000 people that visit Áras an Uachtaráin each year, State Dinners for visiting Heads of State, and the hundreds of events hosted by the President at Áras an Uachtaráin each year. To further enhance transparency, an external Financial Oversight Committee was independently established, and has met on a number of occasions during the year. The following is a financial summary of the matters considered. 2018-2019* In-house events 1. Food & Beverages
2. Hospitality & Entertaining
3. Transport, Gifts and Related Costs
Representing Ireland abroad
Books, research, stationery and postage
* For the period 1 November 2018 – 31 December 2019 These figures relate to spending under the 1938 Allowance for the period 1 November 2018 – 31 December 2019. During the period under review, 22,307 people visited Áras an Uachtaráin. During the seven years of his first term in office, President Higgins welcomed some 140,000 people to Áras an Uachtaráin, and the hospitality costs associated with these visits were covered by the 1938 Allowance. At the end of his first term, the President returned the unspent portions of the Allowance, totalling € 238,443, to the exchequer, as was detailed in the Presidency In Review report published in 2018. Similarly, at the end of his current term, in 2025, President Higgins will return any unspent funds from the Allowance.
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ANNEX Private Office of the President President
Head of Communications
Office of the Secretary General to the President The Office of the President was established by the Constitution of Ireland (Bunreacht na hĂ‰ireann) and the Office of the Secretary General to the President was established under the Presidential Establishment Act 1938.
and is supported in this role by a Deputy Secretary General to the President. The Secretariat is made up of civil servants, and complements the Private Office, which is made up of three President's appointees and the President's Private Secretary, who is also a civil servant.
The Office is divided into the Private Office and the Secretariat. The Secretary General heads the Secretariat
There are four main divisions in the Secretariat: Protocol, Corporate Services, Communications and Speechwriting.
Secretary General to the President
Deputy Secretary General to the President
Communications & I.T.
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This publication is made available under open licence. Readers are free to copy, publish, distribute and transmit this publication, provided the source is stated explicitly and clearly. This publication may not be used for political or commercial purposes, and use of the logo of the President of Ireland and the President’s Establishment is not permitted. Any use of third party copyright material included in this publication requires permission from the copyright holders concerned. This publication is available via www.president.ie Any enquiries regarding this publication should be sent to us using the contact details available at www.president.ie All photos, unless otherwise stated, copyright Áras an Uachtaráin / Maxwell Photography 41 2019 IN REVIEW
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