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President calls for 'solidarity' to tackle Covid-19 in St Patrick's message

Michael D Higgins addressed the coronavirus outbreak in his St Patrick’s Day message this evening.

Áras an Uachtaráin / YouTube

PRESIDENT MICHAEL D Higgins has called for people to follow the example of St Patrick in showing “solidarity” for fellow citizens as the world grapples with the spread of the coronavirus Covid-19. 

In his annual St Patrick’s Day message, Higgins says that people should “follow the values embodied in the story of St Patrick”.

“Those values of solidarity and concern for the well-being of our fellow citizens will play a fundamental role in our effective confronting of the challenge with which we are now presented,” he says. 

Last year, Higgins asked people to think of the colour green and their obligations to protect the planet. 

This year, amidst the backdrop of the global Covid-19 crisis, Higgins focused heavily on how the country should be preparing to tackle the virus. 

Echoing the words of Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and health minister Simon Harris – both of whom have appealed to the country to work together to overcome Covid-19 – the president said that he had been “inspired and uplifted by the generous spirit of unity that I have witnessed in communities across the country”. 

“I have seen so many examples of care and compassion where communities have come together to look after their elderly and sick, and to ensure the welfare of those who are vulnerable and marginalised,” he said. 

Twenty-seven new cases of Covid-19 were confirmed in Ireland yesterday, bringing the total number to 70. Of that total, six patients are in intensive care. 

Yesterday, the government announced an unprecedented shutdown of schools, colleges and public facilities until at least 29 March. 

St Patrick’s celebrations in Ireland and elsewhere have been cancelled in response to the spread of Covid-19. 

Since the announcement yesterday, authorities have warned people that there is no need to stockpile food and goods. Despite this, shops saw shelves cleared in the afternoon and evening – and there’s some evidence of this continuing today.

Higgins said he expected the spirit of care and compassion to “come very much to the fore during this difficult time, which will require generous and compassionate citizenship as we work to keep all members of our community safe”.

Wishing everyone a peaceful and happy St Patrick’s Day, Higgins used his address to remind people of the “strong bonds we share with our wider global family despite the miles, borders and oceans that may separate us”.

“As members of that global community we must commit to working in a spirit of solidarity and co-operation, joining with citizens across the world in fighting this global health emergency,” he said.

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