Michael D Higgins unwavering in refusal to walk back on political comments
"I am reflecting the will of the people."
President Michael D Higgins has refused to walk back on his recent political comments which have drawn criticism and says he has a responsibility to speak on behalf of the Irish people.
The President, who has been outspoken on topics such as the ongoing conflict in Gaza and the recent flooding in Cork, said that he will not be a “puppet” President who “simply takes pieces of paper in front of him or her and deals with them at the behest of somebody who is part of a department."
Speaking in Rome on Friday, October 20, President Higgins doubled down on his refusal to remain apolitical, as some critics believe he should.
“I have been elected as President of Ireland twice," he told the media. "It's a deep honour, a deep privilege and a great responsibility. Not just that I have a responsibility - I am reflecting the will of the people.
"In a couple of years' time, people will be able to resolve this issue themselves in relation as to whether they want a silent person, a puppet or whether they want a President."
Michael D Higgins responds to criticism on sharing political views
Since his election to Áras an Uachtaráin in 2011, President Higgins has been known to not hold his tongue on various political matters, both in Ireland and abroad.
His outspoken nature has drawn criticism from some circles of the government, dragging up the age-old debate of whether the head of state should remain apolitical during his or her tenure.
The President recently criticised European Commissioner Ursula von der Leyen's support of Israel's response to the Hamas attack, saying: "I don't know where the legitimation for it was and I don't know where the authority for it is, and I don't think it was helpful."
President Michael D Higgins has strongly criticised the head of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen for comments on the Middle East conflict which she made on a visit to Israel last Friday | Read more: https://t.co/4j0fzMs5kb pic.twitter.com/Pi29Ib1DzM
— RTÉ News (@rtenews) October 16, 2023
Last week, the 82-year-old also seemed to criticise the government's policy regarding the flooding in Cork, saying that the protections in place were "insufficient".
“I think it is very important to realise from a Government policy point of view, and no doubt Government is considering this, whatever protections they had were insufficient. We are now in circumstances where the consequences of climate change are ones that are going to be visited on us again and again.
"People who spent all of their lives looking after their house and looking after their neighbours - and they are just devastated."
A spokesperson for the President said Mr Higgins was not criticising Government policy but the actual flood defences themselves.
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