President Michael D Higgins has issued his Christmas and New Year message to the people of Ireland and all the Irish family.

Mr Higgins said that those of us fortunate to have a joyous Christmas should be mindful of the need to reach out to others who may be going through a difficult time.

He also paid tribute to those who maintain essential services over the Christmas period, such as gardaí, medical personnel and prison officers.

The President said that despite the difficult economic times Ireland is experiencing there is much to be proud of as we prepare for the New Year.