Message to the Irish at home and abroad at Easter 2020
From President Michael D Higgins
Date: Fri 10th Apr, 2020
This Easter 2020 is a challenging time for so many. All of our Irish family, and particularly those abroad, are very much in the thoughts of loved ones during these difficult days, as we strive together to come to terms with the Coronavirus and its consequences.
Over the past number of weeks, all of us have awoken abruptly to changes in our way of life. There is an uncertainty, anxiety and fear to be overcome as the Coronavirus takes hold in our communities. We have all been asked to take more restrictive measures in order to stop the spread of the virus – measures that would have been unimaginable just a few weeks ago and which have presented a challenge to our resolve, to our way of life, be it how we work or socialise with others.
As the number of Coronavirus cases rises and the global death toll accumulates to shocking levels, it would be easy to become overwhelmed.
Sabina and I are greatly aware of the pain and suffering so many of you are experiencing in different ways, we send our deepest sympathies to those who have been bereaved in recent days and weeks as a result of the pandemic, those who are ill, anxious and concerned. We know, too, how difficult it is in so many ways for those who would wish to be with loved ones for whom they are concerned, but whose protection requires that they stay at a distance.
All of what we are asked to do now is about saving lives, slowing the spread of the virus, and caring in the ways that have been suggested to us by medical advice, until a vaccine emerges.
May I take this opportunity again, as President of Ireland, to thank all those who continue to work tirelessly and selflessly to keep communities, wherever they may be, healthy and safe – the many Irish medical staff who are providing the highest standards of care not only at home but across the globe.
To all of you responding to this crisis, including those in retail, pharmaceuticals and other vital sectors providing essential goods and services such as maintaining the settings for medical care, buíochas ó chroí.
The Irish community abroad, which extends to some 75 million in its widest definition, is a community united by its roots to Ireland, but also by these shared values that our Irishness embodies.
Sabina and I would like to convey the sympathy and solidarity of the Irish people at home to our wider global family, as we share together in our different places a response to this challenging crisis, a response that I believe will lead us towards a further strengthening of the values of empathy, compassion, inclusion and shared humanity, values that have always defined us as a nation, and which have been so much in evidence in recent weeks.
Irish people have always made an enormous contribution to the nations in which they have settled, be it temporarily or permanently, and you continue to do so at this time of great need.
To those of you abroad may I express again how deeply grateful I am to those of you who are reaching out a hand of friendship and support to your fellow Irish emigrants, in particular to those who are ill, bereaved or in particular need of assistance at this challenging time. To know of your compassion and practical assistance is of great comfort to their families and loved ones at home.
Easter is a time of hope, of rebirth, of new beginnings. That is what is central in the various religious services, the transcendence of suffering. Nature in its renewal offers us perennial hope as we deal with these difficult times. Just as the seasons change, this crisis, too, will pass, but its severity and magnitude are, to a large extent, in our hands.
Caithifimíd ár misneach a mhuscailt is a choinneáil ionas go mbeimíd réidh don aiseirí a thiocfaidh. At Easter we are asked to muster our courage, keep faith with our possibilities so that we can be ready for our renewal.
In keeping with the Easter message of hope, Irish people are being asked to place a light in their window tomorrow, the Saturday before Easter Sunday, a time so important in the symbolism of our Irish Independence. Sabina and I will light lanterns and place these at the doors in Aras an Uachtaráin, symbolising our shared solidarity and offering a beacon of hope in a time of darkness.
The days ahead may continue to be difficult, and for some I recognise they are more difficult than others, such as carers, but what a memory it will be, and legacy too, when the virus has passed to know that we gave of our best, and what a valuable memory it will be that we continued to save lives that would otherwise have been lost by co-operating and working with the measures suggested to us for the good of all.
As President of Ireland, I send you Easter greetings wherever you may be, and wish you well in your solidarity, vigilance and tenacity during these difficult times when we are tested like few other times in recent memory.
Ar scáth a chéile a mhairimíd. In the shadow of each other we live.
May the hope and peace of Easter be with you all.