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Michael D Higgins: Covid-19 pandemic has created an 'unanswerable case' for universal basic services

“The good thing about it, I think, is that there will be an opportunity to do things better,” Uachtarán na hÉireann argued.

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UACHTARÁN NA hÉIREANN Michael D Higgins has said that there will be advantages to be gained from the Covid-19 pandemic, including an “unanswerable case” for universal basic services.

Speaking on Newstalk’s Pat Kenny Show, the President said that the coronavirus crisis was an opportunity to improve society in Ireland and across Europe. 

“What is going to emerge globally, is that there is an unanswerable case now both globally and regionally in the European Union, for having universal basic services.

“That is a flow of basic services that will be there to protect us in the future, from which we can depart to be able to live, for people to have a sufficiency for what they need. This is what happened after the war, this is what happened after the Great Recession in 1929.”

“We need to be able to take advantages, and I think there are really good advantages,” he said.

The good thing about it, I think, is that there will be an opportunity to do things better. This crisis will pass but remember that there will be other viruses, so we can’t let ourselves be in the same vulnerable position again, as we are now. 

He said that for those who lost their jobs or were about to lose their jobs, “we’ll have to redefine work in terms of the socially embedded economic policy” in the European Union.

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“That’s a good debate to have, but we can’t just drift into some notion that we can recover what we had and that that would be sufficient. That is over.

The President said that releasing “an enormous amount of credit” among European Union member states without knowing how it would be spent was an “insufficient instrument”.

“It’s a test of the future of the Union, in my view, as to whether or not we are able to invent and bring into being a European instrument that will not dislodge all of the economies in their national sense, but to answer the costing of all of this to a shared responsibility.”

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