President Higgins became the first Irish Head of State to include Leipzig – a city in the former East Germany – in the programme for a State Visit, reflecting Ireland’s intention to go beyond traditional centres of Irish links and build new links for the future.
The University of Leipzig is a key location for the study of the Irish language in Germany. The President’s visit was aimed at acknowledging and celebrating this fact, and also to reflect, on the eve of the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, on the Leipzig Monday protests which in October 1989 paved the way for the fall of the Wall.
The President’s address to an audience of academics focused on the future of the European Union – a topic that has been the subject of many of the President’s recent speeches.
In many of his speeches the President has suggested that the EU’s founding principles represent “the triumph of idealism over cynicism” and that such principles merit active defence at a time that they are threatened by “increasing inequalities in income, wealth, power and opportunities.”
The President has stated that a wide and comprehensive debate is needed and that the Union’s smaller states must make their voices heard and take a leading role in deciding the future of the Union.
Some of the President’s recent speeches on this topic are:
- Speech at the European Federation of Public Service Unions’ congress – June 2019
- “Making a New Mind for Europe” – March 2019
- ‘Solidarity in Europe; Achieving Authenticity in the European Street’ – Speech to the European University Institute (May 2018)
- “Giving the European Union a Future that will Engage Citizens - A Shared Challenge” (January 2018)
- Speech by President Higgins at the Diplomatic Corps 2018 New Year’s Greeting Ceremony (January 2018)
- Speech at a Reception for the European Association of Former Members of Parliament (June 2017)
- Speech at the Diplomatic Corps 2017 New Year’s Greeting Ceremony (January 2017)
- “Creating a New Moment for the European Union: Problems and Prospects” - Address to the Irish Association of Contemporary European Studies. (April 2016)
- “The European Union - Towards a Discourse of Reconnection, Renewal and Hope” (September 2015)
- ‘Towards a European Union of the Citizens’ - Address to the European Parliament (April 2013)