President Higgins is the Patron of the Irish Writers Centre and he has put the promotion of creativity, critical thought and the careful use of language at the heart of his Presidency.
Meeting members of Irish PEN, Word and the Irish Writers Centre at Áras an Uachtaráin on 27th March 2018, President Higgins marked the launch of WORD and Irish PEN’s initiative to support International PENs Freedom to Write Campaign.
Freedom of expression and solidarity among writers are at the heart of PEN. PEN started in the aftermath of World War One bringing writers together to express solidarity within and between recently warring nations. PEN quickly expressed this same solidarity by campaigning for freedom of expression for all writers and for individual writers who were silenced, harassed, imprisoned and murdered because they had the courage to write.
As a group we are planning to take one action for each season during the coming year. These will be linked to other events such as the Nollaig na MBan in January, the PEN Dinner Empty Chair, the Day of the Imprisoned Writer in November and PEN International global actions. We will follow up with actions and updates on cases, but for this quarter we are focussing on, in particular Zehra Dogan and Raif Badawi.
Pictured, Father Tony Gaughan, President Irish PEN, Liz McManus, President Higgins, June Considine and Valerie Bistany (Irish Writers Centre)
Listen to the President’s full speech here: