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off script President Michael D Higgins slams Elon Musk Twitter takeover as 'dangerous narcissism'

A multi-billionaire would be now deciding what it's appropriate for people to exchange in public discourse”

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President Michael D. Higgins

President Michael D. Higgins

President Michael D. Higgins

President Michael D Higgins has accused Elon Musk of “incredibly dangerous narcissism” over his attempt to buy Twitter.

The President took on the world’s richest man in a wide-ranging address to a conference on climate change.

He went off script while speaking about the role of media in raising climate action issues and while he did not refer to Mr Musk by name, he spoke about how “someone announces they are able to buy Twitter”.

“A multi-billionaire would be now deciding what it's appropriate for people to exchange in public discourse,” he said.

“I think it can hardly be described as anything other than a manifestation of an incredibly dangerous narcissism.”

President Higgins also used his address to criticise Russia’s actions in Ukraine which he said were “entirely illegal and a breach of every principle of international law”.

They were an example of the “dangerous tendency of imperialism,” he told the inaugural conference of Dublin City University’s new Centre for Climate and Society.

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Elon Musk. Photo: Hannibal Hanschke

Elon Musk. Photo: Hannibal Hanschke

Elon Musk. Photo: Hannibal Hanschke

 

His remarks were made in the presence of the Ukrainian ambassador to Ireland, Gerasko Larysa.

President Higgins told the event he found it hard to be hopeful about the state of the world because of the failures of democracy and lack of respect for nature.

“What if we don't change? If we don't have the paradigm shift? We're going to see deepening stress on global communities, shortages of resources...contributing to conflict, forced migration.”

He said future generations could regard the current population as criminals. “I struggle for hope,” he said.

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President Higgins hit out at excess consumption and the “myth of progress” built on ever-increasing economic growth that benefitted the few.

He said the response to the climate crisis must come from all sectors of society and he praised those working to give prominence to the issue.

“One of the great benefits of Ireland coming through Covid was that we didn’t have intergenerational divisions,” he said.

Climate action needed the same response - local, national and global from people of all ages.

President Higgins said he importance of universal services and State leadership in providing them during Covid illustrated the crucial role of the State in responding to crises.

In prepared remarks which he did not deliver, he went further to say the Government and State agencies must step up their efforts on climate if the public was to be convinced to act.

“The Irish State must lead by example if it is to have any credibility, any realistic hope of bringing its citizens with it on the challenging journey to a net-zero carbon future,” he had written.

DCU established its Centre for Climate and Society last year with financial support from Deloitte.

University president, Daire Keogh, said the centre was a response to the recognition that climate change was no longer a problem for the physical sciences alone.

“It is a policy problem, it is a communications problem, it is a media problem, an ethics problem, an education problem, a corporate problem,” he said.

“In fact, it is a challenge that every area of society will have to respond to.” This would be reflected in the centre’s research agenda, he said.

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