President Higgins’ public initiative this year focuses on ethics which “enable us to build a sustainable social economy and a society which is profoundly ethical and inclusive”. As The Society of Saint Vincent de Paul is becoming increasingly concerned with decreasing opportunities for people who are disadvantaged to reach their full potential, we felt this was a good opportunity to seek the input of the President of Ireland to provide a key note speech to an event we’re holding on the 22nd of September to call for a debate on the type of Irish society we want.
On foot of this invitation, representatives of SVP attended lunch with the President and Sabina at Áras an Uachtaráin on Monday June 16th, to hear about the progress and issues raised so far as part of President Higgins’ ethics initiative and to discuss how best we, as a charity of social concern and action, could become involved with the President on these issues at our event.
It was a beautifully sunny day for our lunch. Discussions over food related to the President’s initiative and our values as a volunteer-led charity which both assists people in need and advocates for social justice. We talked of the social concerns facing SVP and that the Presidents’ ethics initiative resonates strongly with us. President Higgins warmly accepted our invitation to be keynote speaker at our September event, which will launch a deep and wide consultation with people and groups from various walks of life, hopefully including those affected by poverty and exclusion. We talked about the kind of vision required to set out and underpin a fairer, more just society that enables all children in Ireland to grow up free from poverty.
The following week we were welcomed back as one of many groups of guests at President Higgins and Sabina’s Garden Party in late June. The Garden Party hosted people from third level institutions as well as charities and individuals with a knowledge of and passion for ethics and a desire for a fairer society. President Higgins addressed guests on this issue and wonderful live music distracted us from the heavy rain falling outside the marquee.
SVP wished to engage with the President’s initiative this year because Ireland is becoming an increasingly unequal place. Without a change in public attitudes towards tackling the underlying causes of social exclusion and inequality, the problems we see will continue to get worse. Our aim is to develop a vision and values upon which a more ethical Irish society can be based; one that provides genuine social and economic opportunities for all.
We will have more details about our September event soon. We hope to see you there!