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Reclaiming the European Street: Speeches on Europe and the European Union, 2016-20

By: President Michael D. Higgins


‘From COVID-19 we have been reminded through tragedy and suffering that we have a shared, globalised vulnerability that is common to all humanity, one that knows no borders. … The lessons of necessity and solidarity learned during the pandemic must now inform a European-led transition to a just and ecologically sustainable society in its aftermath. I am hopeful that, within an enlightened eco-social framework, we may respond together in a transformative, inclusive way to the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change, the impact of digitalisation, rising inequality and the unaccountable, and, in doing so, address the democratic crisis facing so many societies in Europe and beyond.’

With a Foreword written in August 2020, this timely and important intervention in the debates concerning Europe in Ireland illuminates President Michael D. Higgins’ standpoint on a range of important issues. From the 1916 Centenary celebration to the Brexit decision of June 2016, interest in European matters in public debates has exponentially increased. The present Covid-19 crisis further moves the European Union into the limelight, in particular its role in helping member states cope with the consequences of this unprecedented disaster. Yet, public discussions regarding Ireland’s closer links with the European Union often remain purely utilitarian and economic, or take place solely within academia.

The most extensive interventions on these issues in recent years have come from the President of Ireland. This edition collects all of the major speeches on the topic of Europe since 2016 and includes an introduction by the editors which situates the book within the context of wider Irish and European intellectual history. The speeches encompass interventions on historical aspects, bilateral cultural links, citizens’ involvement in the European project, workers’ rights and ecological concerns. These speeches are marked by the President’s particular and personal stamp, while also expressing central concerns on behalf of Irish citizens. The volume will include translations into Irish, French and German.


President Michael D. Higgins was elected the ninth President of Ireland in 2011 and was re-elected in 2018 securing the largest number of votes in Irish presidential election history. President Higgins has forged a career as an academic, a poet, and as a public representative serving at every level of public life in Ireland. He was a member of Dáil Éireann for twenty-five years and a member of Seanad Éireann for nine years. He has campaigned extensively for human rights, inclusive citizenship and climate sustainability across the world. Previous works include When Ideas Matter: Speeches for an Ethical Republic (2016), Renewing the Republic (2012) and Causes of Concern (2007) and among numerous other publications.


Prof. Joachim Fischer (MA Mainz, PhD TCD) is Jean Monnet Professor of European Cultural Studies at the University of Limerick and has been a driving force in European Studies at his institution for three decades. NIHE Limerick was set up in 1972 and UL has remained a major centre for European Studies in Ireland ever since. Prof. Fischer is Course Director of its undergraduate programme in European Studies which is among the longest-established such programmes in the world.

Dr habil. Fergal Lenehan (BA and MA UCD, PhD Leipzig, Habilitation Jena) has been lecturing in Intercultural Communications and European Studies at the Friedrich-Schiller Universität Jena (Germany) for over a decade. His comparative study of intellectual discourses on Europe in Ireland, Britain and Germany (Trier 2014) is a key contribution to this under-researched field.

Portrait by Colin Davidson

Weight 0.2 kg
Dimensions 234 × 156 mm