Irish President Michael D. Higgins visits Maynooth University
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Irish President Michael D. Higgins visits Maynooth University

Launching Social Justice Week 2014

President Michael D. Higgins visited the campus of Maynooth University on Monday, October 13th to officially launch Social Justice Week 2014, inspiring students to use their university experience as an opportunity to learn about – and act on – social injustices around the world.

Social Justice Week is a collaborative effort between students, staff and not-for-profit agencies aimed at raising awareness of global challenges, promoting social justice and challenging individuals to make a positive difference to the world around them.

Diverse Programme of Events

As part of Social Justice Week, the Maynooth Social Justice Project organised a diverse programme of lectures, workshops, photography exhibition, film screenings and interfaith celebrations to educate students and staff on some of the world’s most pressing challenges and to engage with them on efforts being made by individuals and organisations around the globe to develop solutions.

Amongst the themes to be addressed during the week were human trafficking, climate change, child poverty, conflict in the Middle East, and mental health. Representatives from not-for-profit agencies such as Trocaire, Amnesty International and the International Justice Mission were on hand to advise students on volunteer opportunities overseas.

Social Justice in Ireland

In his remarks at the launch of Social Justice Week, President Higgins said that Ireland has a moral responsibility to ensure that its migration laws respect individuals who have been displaced. “The arrival on these shores of people who are fleeing war and persecution, the movement of workers and families who are escaping destitution and poverty, are global issues in the addressing of which Ireland has a moral duty to play its part, both through our role in the international community, and in our laws, policies and practices at the national level,” he said.

Promoting Social Justice at Maynooth University

Speaking at the launch, President of Maynooth University, Professor Philip Nolan said: “We are truly honoured to have President Higgins officially launch Maynooth University Social Justice Week.  President Higgins has demonstrated a true commitment to social justice and helping others throughout his career and clearly recognises the important message of social responsibility Maynooth University endeavours to communicate. Social Justice is an integral element of the Maynooth University ethos and it will continue to inform our vision of education into the future.”

President Nolan continued, “As new students come through our doors each year, we have a responsibility to nurture their critical thinking both in and outside the classroom and to equip them with the necessary strengths to become responsible and socially engaged global citizens.  Social Justice Week is a true example of this commitment.”

The Pearse Hutchinson Archive

President Higgins also took time out to view the archive of renowned multilingual author, poet and activist Pearse Hutchinson, housed in the Maynooth University Library. Throughout his life, Pearse Hutchinson used his writings to champion the causes of many social justice issues, including the anti-apartheid movement, civil rights movement in Northern Ireland, the Catalan quest for independence, human rights abuses in South America, and trade unionism in Ireland. The Pearse Hutchinson Archive was officially opened in Maynooth University’s library in March this year.

Maynooth University Social Justice Week 2014 ran from Monday, 13th October to Friday, 17th October. For more information please visit Maynooth University Social Justice Project.

You can watch President Higgins’ speech here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IM521dskqe8&list=UUrnmLAU2QlHkYkQoH8lagWg