President-elect Michael D Higgins has said he is very aware of the worries and stress many people are experiencing in their everyday lives and he wants to play an energetic and encouraging role in helping turn around the country's fortunes.

Mr Higgins was speaking to RTÉ news at his home in Galway ahead of tomorrow's inauguration.

“I am very well aware, having travelled the country, of the grief that is there in terms of disappointed expectation; the stress in relation to mortgages and property that have devalued,” he said.

“And above all of that there is the principle problem of the 420,000 unemployed, and the many more who are in jobs that are insecure.

He said there was a responsibility to be a source of inspiration at home to people, and also to support those seeking bring investment to Ireland.

“I will be happy to work with the Government and to use my abilities as best I can to help create a better Ireland,” said Mr Higgins. “As President I will have a clear and positive view and be full of enthusiasm.”

“One of the great mistakes is to think that because a person has an idealistic vision of one's country - and I love Ireland - that you are not practical; nothing is as impractical as neglecting ideals and prospects and hopes and possibilities.”

Mr Higgins said he hoped to encourage a new kind of Irishness - an Irishness that was based on the fundamental, radical recognition of the dignity of every living person - versus valuing a person in terms of what they were assumed to have had accumulated in terms of personal wealth, far beyond their needs.