Words matter - that’s what Michael D Higgins said on the night of his re-election.

On the evening of his inauguration to serve a second term as Head of State, President Higgins used his public address to eloquently set out the values and themes, which he wants to define the seven years to come. 

By any measure, it is an extensive list. 

In a wide-ranging  and extensive speech at the start of his second term, President Higgins stressed the need for inclusion, equality, diversity, decency and participation.

He pointed to inequality in areas such as housing, health and education.

And in the year that marks the 100th year anniversary of Irish women attaining the vote, he referenced the rights of women.

The poet and former politician, lecturer and social activist also addressed violence against women, and separately racism and hatred, which he noted had been rejected by young people in Ireland.

Interestingly, President Higgins also signaled his intention to be part of the global conversation on climate change and world poverty. He stressed the need to turn words into deeds.


Read more:

President stresses need for diversity and inclusion in speech
President Higgins' inauguration speech in full


Over the past seven years - Michael D Higgins has been a very vocal President.

Like his two predecessors - Mary Robinson and Mary McAleese - he has pushed the limits of the office while astutely remaining within constitutional boundaries.

During this second term a number of significant commemorations will take place.

They will include the anniversaries of the War of Independence and Civil War. 

In referencing these centenary anniversaries, Michael D Higgins said we must not re-open wounds, rather we must acknowledge the scars.

The President’s stewardship of these contested and contentious commemorations will most likely define his second term.

Overall, the totality of the words in the Inauguration Address contained no single theme.

Instead President Higgins put forward a set of values alongside an extensive and exhaustive list of issues that need to be addressed during his second term.

Listening to the address in Dublin Castle, it was evident that - as he commences his second term - President Higgins has no intention of slowing down.

Nor will he ever bow to the pressure of giving a fast and snazzy soundbite.

His previous life as a university lecturer still stand to him as he teases out complex issues. 

With the overwhelming endorsement of the electorate he clearly intends to continue to be an active President in pursuit of his vision as Head of State.