President Michael D Higgins has highlighted and condemned racism in his message to mark St Patrick's Day.

In a wide-ranging speech, he also addressed the global issues of forced migration, poverty and the climate crisis.

While the President shared his concern over an increase in global conflicts, he expressed gratitude to people here who have helped those fleeing war.

He said it is "heartening" that communities in Ireland continue to provide sanctuary to the tens of thousands of displaced Ukrainian citizens who have fled conflict.

"It is heartening to see the welcome that so many households and schools have extended here in Ireland and elsewhere, heartening to hear of all those who continue to provide sanctuary to the tens of thousands of displaced Ukrainian citizens who have fled conflict in their homeland", he said.

"Schools in every part of the country have opened their arms to new pupils and shown a deep commitment of respect and solidarity. Thank you."

The President also spoke about an increase in racism and xenophobia and appealed for everyone to stand in solidarity with all those across the globe who are vulnerable and in need.

He reflected on the legacy of St Patrick and his relevance today.

"The story of his life as a migrant, we must never forget, is a reminder of the resilience and necessary courage of migrants, a reminder too of the contributions that they have made, and continue to make, to the countries they call home."

President Higgins said there are many many powerful echoes from St Patrick's life that resonate with people's contemporary circumstances, "where racism is increasing rather than decreasing, in so many parts of a world, where a poisonous xenophobia, new and recalled, has taken hold in so many places."

He said it is these spaces where fear is being sowed and it is "our power" to create an inclusive, just world where all humans, in all their diversity and circumstances, are treated with dignity, respect and justice.

President Higgins also highlighted the problems of global poverty and the threat of climate change.

He said there is a moral and ethical responsibility to support those in dire need and to help with sustainable solutions to ending all famines and to provide a decisive response to climate change.

Read the full speech here | Teachtaireacht ón Uachtarán do Lá Fhéile Pádraig

He said it is "tragic injustice" that the nations suffering the greatest human and economic impact of climate change are those who were least responsible for the emissions that "threaten their very existence".

The President also described it as "shameful" that 64 countries in the developing world were forced, while struggling with the Covid-19 pandemic, to spend more on debt repayments than on funding public health.

He ended his ten-minute speech on a note of hope and positivity saying that "rather than list the points of darkness that challenge us in our contemporary circumstances, let us instead be guided by the points of light.

"Let us envision how our lives could be without war, famine, hunger and greed, in a world that eschews the poisonous ideals of imperialism and embraces the decent instincts of humanity that such as Saint Patrick embodied."

He said that in following St Patrick's path, it is about recovering "the best instincts of our humanity" and "have the mettle to face those who resist such instincts."