The President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins spoke about the challenge of human rights for contemporary law, politics and economics at the eighth Daniel O’Connell Memorial Lecture, hosted by the Council of The Bar of Ireland in Distillery Building, Church Street, on Thursday 19th November 2015.
Addressing members of The Bar of Ireland and guests, President Higgins paid tribute to the Council of The Bar of Ireland for organising the lecture, which he said has come to serve an important function in the evolution of human rights in Ireland.
President Higgins, attending the event with his wife Sabina, said that human rights are not an aspiration; that they remain an urgent requirement of law and of our democracy. While highlighting the progress that has been made, he said the demands of universal rights and human dignity continue to be tested every day in our courts.
Chairman of the Council of The Bar of Ireland, David Barniville SC, said; “It is most fitting that this year’s Daniel O’Connell memorial lecture is delivered by President Higgins, who throughout his life, in tandem with an almost 40 year career as a public representative has campaigned for human rights and for the promotion of peace and democracy in Ireland and in many other parts of the world.”
“Daniel O’Connell was one of the most distinguished barristers of his day and – like President Higgins – the universality of human rights was central to his work, and ultimately to his legacy.
In his lecture, President Higgins commended the Council of The Bar of Ireland for its Voluntary Assistance Scheme and for the Rule of Law International project it runs in conjunction with The Law Society, which he visited in Malawi last year. He said it is a wonderful example of ‘internationalism’ in action – a subject which was a key theme of Daniel O’Connell’s own work, not only in relation to slavery and Jewish emancipation but also in support for the liberation movements in South America and elsewhere.