The Irish people are at once an ancient and a fully modern people.

We are well educated, hardworking and steeped in democratic tradition. We are known the world over for our generosity and our solidarity with other peoples in their times of crisis.

As a people, we have been tested harshly by history. Each time we have proven resilient and have rallied to re-assert our rights. The deep seated desire to live in a free and fair society and to live in harmony with other peoples is ingrained in our national make-up.

As a sovereign people, we are the rightful masters of our own destiny and of all the natural and other resources of our territory. This right of sovereignty exists without restriction; it cannot be given away by anyone, whether by treaty, by forfeit, by conquest or otherwise.

Earlier generations have defined and asserted our sovereign rights, our community, our nationality and our identity. We have had some success in the past, but our national advance has never resulted in the empowerment of the people.

The only legitimate reason for the existence of the State is to ensure that every person’s needs are met and that each can achieve their fullest potential and legitimate aspirations.

It is not the role of the State to grant us our rights. The State exists so that we may assert our rights and exercise them – it is our servant. The citizens must direct the State and decide its policy and laws; it is the people who give it legitimacy, not the other way around.

The people, its citizens, do not control the State – we face today’s challenges in this context.

Today, a new type of crisis is upon us, threatening us in new ways, with grave consequences for individuals and whole sections of society. It is possible that it will affect generations to come.

The one factor which will give us control over our current situation, and the future, is the empowerment of the citizens, not just in words or aspiration, but in practice.

If we empower ourselves, we will overcome this crisis too.