The President of Ireland, Michael D Higgins, recently visited Scotland and addressed the Scottish Parliament on the issues of our shared heritage the rights of immigrants and refugees in the current political climate.
Elaine Smith, Labour MSP for Central Scotland, met with President Higgins after his speech in the chamber.
President Higgins said: “If we imagine ourselves in the position of those currently fleeing war-torn Syria, or trapped in an unending cycle of conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo, or in the position of future generations living in toxic and hostile environments, we could not acquiesce to inaction.
“For a long time, the Irish and the Scots found that our own people were forced to seek sustenance abroad.
“The strength and vitality of our diasporas today can be attributed to the bravery and indomitable spirit that motivated our ancestors to seek not only better lives for themselves and their families, but also to recognise the value of community and to appreciate the welcome they received on foreign shores.
“Perhaps, then, with our traditions and values, we might both be expected to play leading parts in showing the ethical leadership that is so needed at this moment in our history.”
Mrs Smith echoed these comments saying: “I have spoken at many events in Coatbridge and across Scotland on our shared Scottish and Irish heritage, so it was a privilege to have President Higgins address our Parliament. His words on our shared history with Ireland and our immigrant heritage could not be more timely.”