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Statement by President Michael D. Higgins, to mark World Press Freedom Day, 3 May

Date: Tue 3rd May, 2016 | 14:40

Marking World Press Freedom Day, President Michael D. Higgins today highlighted the crucial role of the media in democratic societies:

"World Press Freedom Day is celebrated across the globe every 3 May, to pay tribute to journalists who have lost their lives in the line of duty, and to celebrate the fundamental principles of media freedom, pluralism and independence.

This year, 100 years since the momentous event of the 1916 Easter Rising, we are reminded of the importance of a free and democratic society and of the central role that journalism must play in the quest for a full and accountable democratic republic.

Press freedom and the right to information have a direct relevance to achieving the vision of a true Republic. They are central elements, too, in creating the kind of sustainable and equal societies we all aspire to for our future. As is recognised in the UN Sustainable Development Goals, agreed by the international community last year as a blueprint for global development. These globally agreed Goals make clear that no society can aspire to be fully inclusive and future-proof if it does not include the 'public access to information and fundamental freedoms' called for in the Sustainable Development Goals.

That this is not mere theory is illustrated dramatically as we mark the 20th anniversary of the murder of journalist Veronica Guerin. The killing of journalists is the ultimate form of censorship, and must be condemned in the strongest possible terms. Each year around the world, journalists continue to pay the ultimate price for their work in bringing the truth to the public.

Today, let us strengthen our resolve to defend the rights of a free press and let us celebrate the possibilities of quality journalism as we build an inclusive society to the benefit of all.”