The Tibetan religious leader, the Dalai Lama, has said Irish people must work with self confidence and co-operation to get out of our economic troubles.

Commenting on Ireland's economic woes, he said individuals who totally relied on money for their happiness really suffered during an economic crisis, compared to those for example with a happy family life.

He said people put too much emphasis on external values, and not enough on inner values, which brings inner strength.

He said Irish people must work with self confidence and co-operation to get out of our economic troubles.

However, when asked if Irish people should forgive bankers and politicians responsible for the difficulties, the Dalai Lama said while forgiveness doesn't mean you forget, people should not hold onto anger and hatred.

The Dalai Lama called for closer ties between Christian churches in Ireland.

On a visit to Kildare town this afternoon, the exiled Buddhist leader said it would be wrong to generalise about Catholic clergy following recent sex abuse scandals.

In Kildare, he was presented with a St Brigid's Cross and a St Brigid's Flame - the symbols of Kildare's spiritual heritage and of justice and peace.

Well-known uilleann piper Liam O'Flynn performed 'Tabhair Dom do Lámh' as the Dalai Lama walked the short distance to St Brigid's Cathedral where is saying private prayers.

Earlier, the exiled Tibetan leader, who is on his first visit to the Republic of Ireland in 20 years, delivered a major speech at a conference in Dublin.

Speaking at a news conference ahead of his address, the Dalai Lama said he was 'happy to be here once more'.

He said he always 'felt a connection with Ireland', as in 1959 when he raised the issue of Tibet at the UN, the Irish Government co-sponsored that initiative.

Asked about the recent killing of the PSNI officer in Omagh, he said people in Northern Ireland have to solve their problems through dialogue and should live happily together.

He said that young people should look to the future more seriously and with vision. He said national boundaries are less relevant in a global society.

He was joined at the conference by Children in Crossfire founder Richard Moore, who the Tibetan leader has described as his 'hero'.

Mr Moore from Derry was blinded aged 10 when a rubber bullet was fired into his face.

The 76-year-old Dalai Lama fled Tibet in 1959 after a failed uprising against Chinese rule.

Since then he has won the Nobel Peace Prize for his non-violent struggle for the Liberation of Tibet.

He has also been honoured in countries all over the world for his work in promoting the environment, inter-religious understanding and universal responsibility.

Following the news conference, the Dalai Lama addressed an audience of 2,000 people in Saggart, Co Dublin, on the issue of universal responsibility.

It was organised by three non-profit organisations - Afri, which focuses on human rights, Children in Crossfire, and, a youth website and forum.

The Dalai Lama will visit Limerick tomorrow.