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Christmas is a special time. For most of us, it is time to be together with our
loved ones, our families, a time to pause and reflect, a time to recognise  and
give thanks for the good people
and happy events in our lives.

     If
Christmas is a time to celebrate, it is also a time to share. We share each
other´s company, each oher´s achievements together with each other´s pains,
hopes and dreams.
     For we must not forget that Christmas is a time of
hope. At this time, in the deepest darkness of winter, we celebrate the triumph
of light over dark, of dreams over the setbacks of the past.
We renew our
sense of  possibilities not yet realised.
     As we take stock over this
holiday period, we are given an opportunity to reflect on our lives and the
world we live in. As we do so, we are reminded of the hardship experienced by
countless people of Ireland and the suffering of millions of our fellow
travellers on this vulnerable planet we call Earth.

     As we reflect on
the story of Christmas and the birth of Jesus, on the plight of homeless Joseph
and Mary anticipating the birth of their child, and how they were aided by
complete strangers, we can perhaps draw inspiration from what they experienced
for our own lives and times. More than anything, the Christmas story gives us
guidance on how to shape our own shared humanity with regard for future
generations. This year in particular, we welcome the acceptance of new
obligations by nation states in relation to global poverty and climate
change.

     During 2015 we learnt that 1 in every 122 people on the
planet is now a refugee, a  "displaced person" or otherwise forced to leave
their homes. Wars, conflict and persecution have forced more people to flee than
at any other time since records began.
    As people of a migrant nation we
are perhaps uniquely placed to understand the great agony experienced by the 60
million displaced people. In this context, it is heartening to see how countless
people in Ireland have chosen to respond with warmth and real
hospitality.
    Our OGOs, our medical services, and our uniformed services -
both at home and overseas -
are peopled by those who have chosen to take
action, and to be the stranger that offers a helping  hand, a shelter, a meal to
those in need. How we treat the weakest among us is the finest test of us as a
nation.

    During the past year both Sabina and I have experienced and
valued the warmth and friendship of people both at home and abroad - and it is
something we deeply appreciate. In villages and towns around the country and on
working  visits abroad we have had the privilege of witnessing the contribution
to community and the public world made by Irish people in so many different
ways.  Together, we can strengthen that web of solidarity that binds us as a
people and as a global community next year.

    As we prepare to
commemorate the momentous events of a century ago that shaped the birth of our
Republic, we are encouraged not only to recall those events, but also to
re-imagine and take inspiration from the Republican ideals proclaimed almost a
century ago. It is my sicere hope that those ideals can inspire each and every
one of us on our share journey where each step made by each citizen, in every
generation, matters; a journey that we all make together, never alone.

  
Mar Uachtarán na hÉireann, guím gach deaghuí oraibh go léir agus go raibh
Nollaig agus Bliain Nua shona agus shíochánta agaibh.

As President of
Ireland may I offer people everywhere the warmest wishes for a peaceful as well
as a happy Christmas and New Year.{jcomments on}

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