Equal and Together

All of our citizens matter, and all have a contribution to make to the achievement of a real republic. I have, as President, supported and encouraged those shared spaces and occasions that harness our citizens' capacities in powerful and inclusive ways.

Decisions are at their best when they reflect a diversity of opinions and experiences and are authentically driven from the ground up. It is through the widening and deepening of participation that our society, our public world and our institutions can best be challenged, renewed and transformed.

However, if we wish to achieve the immense potential of Ireland and all our people, we need to address the very real and often painful barriers to participation. Barriers such as exclusion, isolation and inequality in all its forms. Very often it is those at the margins, those whose voices most need to be heard, who face the greatest obstacles to participation. There is a social floor of security and rights which must be resourced and delivered. There are prejudices and divisions still to be addressed.

A life lived with others is strengthened when we speak to each other in an honest and respectful way. We have, in recent times, become more open in how we share our stories and even our vulnerabilities. Ireland must, as a society, now become better at responding to those vulnerabilities with real supports, and in doing so recognise and celebrate the great potential within each person.