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President Michael D Higgins Peter Byrne via PA Images

President Higgins says need for 'solidarity, compassion and kindness' in Ireland's response to Covid-19

The President has recorded a Covid-19 related message to the Irish at home and abroad.

PRESIDENT MICHAEL D Higgins has said there is a need for “solidarity, care, compassion and kindness” in Ireland’s collective response to the Covid-19 pandemic. 

The President has recorded a Covid-19 related message to the Irish at home and abroad. 

In his message, President Higgins said that with schools now re-opened, people must now “muster a fresh determination to give our efforts, as the late John B Keane might put it, our almighty best”. 

“I believe that the principles that might serve as guide in our renewed commitment can be based on some fundamental values that represent the best of ourselves, such as solidarity, care, compassion and kindness,” he said.

The President said citizens must “continue to share the grief of those who have lost loved ones” and share “the distress of those whose lives and livelihoods have been changed, and address the loneliness being experienced by those who have been cut off from contact with those who previously sustained them”. 

“We must acknowledge and address the loss of the social, economic and recreational practices that were their links to life,” he said. 

President Higgins said solidarity is an “essential value” as the pandemic continues. 

“We must acknowledge that breaches of solidarity damage, and have damaged social cohesion in combatting Covid, but our righteous concerns must not be allowed to dislodge us from our common purpose – that of, by following the advice in relation to public health which we are determined to do out of good citizenship, we will, together, suppress the virus,” he said. 

He continued: 

I mention care. The transition to a post-Covid economy must be to an economy and society that has care as a central purpose. Care means we need to accept that, in their implementation, all of the necessary proposals will fall on those of differing capacities and resources. 
Compassion, I suggest, must be discernible in language as well as actions. The significance of small, low risk, gestures and processes that are part of the interactions of living for those in different categories needs to be recognised and respected, for example, intimacies in the process of grieving or healing. Our citizens must be empowered and encouraged to see themselves strengthened by placing themselves in the space of the vulnerability of each other. 
Kindness is precious. What we communicate with each other, and how, must not be in any form of cold language that invokes fear, but rather one that conveys a warmth, one that reflects a shared concern for us all living and working together as citizens, seeking to exercise our responsibilities stretched to the best of our capacity from an ethic of good citizenship. 

President Higgins said “being effective together” in defeating Covid-19 requires “positive commitments from us all”. 

“We need to speak and encourage each other to have a vision of the light that will surely come from all our efforts when renewed and redoubled,” he said.

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