'Close encounters of the card kind' for Halligan this Christmas
We've all heard the Christmas classic A Spaceman Came Travelling but one Government minister has warned that, this year, it actually might happen.
John Halligan's festive cards are known to be on the quirky side and this year he has adopted the theme of "we are not alone".
The Independent TD, who has responsibility for Ireland's role in Europe's space mission, believes in extraterrestrial life.
His self-funded card features the silhouette of a man standing alone on a shoreline staring into the horizon. He said it is intended to send a "double message" to recipients. "The line inside reads 'Remember, you are not alone, we are not alone' and it's a reminder nobody is alone in this world but also that we may not be alone in the universe," he said.
As a committed atheist, the Minister for State for Training, Skills and Innovation sends out non-religious Christmas cards each year.
"A huge number of scientists would agree with me on this: in the billions of solar systems out there, there is a very distinct possibility that other life forms exist somewhere," he said.
"My Christmas cards are, I suppose, a slightly tongue-in-cheek reminder of this."
Mr Halligan added that he has "a life-long interest in space exploration and science".
"Last month I travelled to Lucerne in Switzerland to represent Ireland at the Ministerial meeting of the European Space Agency (ESA), which is the intergovernmental Space Agency for all of Europe," he said.