Ahead of his address to the United Nations, President Michael D Higgins said he would be focusing on what he described as the three crises affecting our very existence; inequality, social cohesion and climate change.

In last night's address, President Higgins warned that the cost of inaction on climate change would be catastrophic but that the Paris Agreement provided both the framework and the foundations to move forward. 

Earlier this week, during a separate address at New York University, President Higgins made reference to the decision by the Trump administration to pull out of the Paris Agreement and urged the US to reconsider. 

His UN address came a day after President Trump’s and the differences were stark.

On migration, Donald Trump spoke about the right of countries to protect their borders. 

President Higgins, meanwhile, described migration as central to the Irish consciousness, adding that Ireland had been transformed from a place where people were forced to leave, to somewhere that now has the opportunity to be a place of welcomes.

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President Trump’s speech was filled with references to his nationalist, "America First" beliefs saying that the future belongs to patriots, not globalists. 

"If you want freedom, take pride in your country. If you want democracy, hold on to your sovereignty. If you want peace, love your nation," he said.

President Higgins’ speech, by contrast, spoke about the importance of countries working together and embracing multilateralism.

"It allows the large and small, the powerful and weak, to co-exist in shared concern and joint prospect for the betterment of a shared world," he said. 

President Higgins made Ireland’s case for a seat on the UN Security Council and also called for reforms of the council.

CEO of the aid agency Concern, Dominic MacSorley, was at the United Nations in New York and watched President’s Higgins’ address.

"This was his ‘how dare you’ speech," Mr MacSorley said.

"Part inspiration and part denunciation, President Higgins set out a bold ambition for UN reform."