President Michael D. Higgins promises to lead "an Ireland committed to a peaceful world" in passionate victory speech
"We are in a time of transformation."
Saturday evening brought the expected news that Michael D. Higgins will remain in office as President of the Republic of Ireland for another seven years.
In the end, the President won by a resounding margin, receiving 822,566 votes from the public.
Peter Casey took second place with 342,727 votes, finishing ahead of Sean Gallagher, Liadh Ní Riada, Joan Freeman and Gavin Duffy, respectively.
In a wide-ranging victory speech, President Higgins spoke of his gratitude to the people of Ireland and his intention to continue serving them, along with his hope to lead "a real republic where every person is encouraged and supported to participate fully and where every person and community is treated with dignity and respect."
The President also pledged to tackle the housing crisis, climate change, Brexit, trade, global hunger and the need to end “the scourge of violence against women" during his time in office.
Higgins began his victory speech by acknowledging the offer of public service that his fellow candidates made in standing for the "important role" as President in Ireland.
"There are so many to thank," he noted.
"As an independent candidate, I was deeply moved the support I received from political parties and their spokespersons, those who are not of political parties and those from every strand of Irish life.
"I am of course so grateful to my campaign team, everyone of whom brought their own experience and their diverse sources of commitment to work together on what were shared values, and I’m very much looking forward to being able to thank them all just a little later.
"I also want to of course thank my great partner in all of my public life, Sabina Coyne, and our families and both of our extended families."
Watch: 'I hereby declare Michael D Higgins elected to the Office of President of Ireland' pic.twitter.com/HMh86lPsUz
— RTÉ News (@rtenews) October 27, 2018
The President said that his team "campaigned on values which the Irish public have now overwhelmingly chosen as reflecting what they believe to be the important and necessary basis for Ireland and our future."
He paid tribute to his campaign office in Lord Edward Street in Dublin, and in "so many places throughout the country" while expressing his joy in working with "some of the most committed, talented, creative people we have in this beautiful republic that is still coming into being, and is there for the shaping and it offers such hope for Ireland, Europe and our shared planet."
President Higgins said that he appreciated the significance of the "great honour that the people of Ireland have placed upon me" and how he accepted his role "with humility but also with determination and excitement for I believe that there is so much we can achieve together over the next seven years."
The President said that this election shows that a new journey is underway, one that includes all age categories.
"While led by young people, [this journey] can be seen amongst all ages and in all the regions, urban and rural, women and men, for we are at a time of transformation and there is a momentum for empathy, compassion, inclusion and solidarity which must be recognised and celebrated and is such a great resource."
Higgins stressed that words used throughout his campaign like 'together' and '‘authenticity’ hold genuine importance.
"People are interested in conversations and ideas that are sincere and construct, for words matter. Words can hurt. Words can heal. Words can empower. Words can divide.
"And the words and ideas I have used in this campaign reflect a vision for Ireland based on four strands; equal and together, strong, sustainable communities, sharing history, shaping the future and [that] Ireland’s voice matters."
'The people have made a choice as to which version of Irishness they want reflected at home and abroad' pic.twitter.com/ZwTySC5uSd
— RTÉ News (@rtenews) October 27, 2018
In concluding his speech. the President spoke of opportunities "to do things in new ways" over the next seven years, and his hope to include everybody.
"That requires identifying and facing exclusions and more than just eliminating barriers; it means the exercising of new invitations," he said.
"A real republic is a republic of equality, of shared vulnerabilities and of collective capacities.
"A real republic is one where every person is encouraged and supported to participate fully and where every person and community is treated with dignity and respect."
On the issue of the housing crisis and beyond, Higgins was clear in his words.
"Our people want to see security and shelter. Housing that can be a home as part of a healthy community.
"We are in a time of transformation and the presidency through its direct representation of, and direct conversations with the people of Ireland, is an independent space where new ideas and possibilities can emerge.
"The Presidency can bring together the different strands of our nation - past, present and future. I will represent, on your behalf, an Ireland committed to a peaceful world.”