Covid-19: President hopes future generations look back on response with pride

Michael D. Higgins says older people appreciative of caring approach being taken by many

President of Ireland Michael D. Higgins signing the Health (Preservation and Protection and other Emergency Measures in the Public Interest) Bill 2020 on Friday.

President of Ireland Michael D. Higgins signing the Health (Preservation and Protection and other Emergency Measures in the Public Interest) Bill 2020 on Friday.

 

President Michael D. Higgins has said he hopes future generations will look back with pride at how Irish society has risen to the challenges posed by the coronaviurs pandemic.

Tens of thousands of people have offered to work or return to work in the health service to help combat the Covid-19 outbreak and communities have rallied together to help those vulnerable to the illness.

Speaking after signing emergency legislation drafted in response to the Covid-19 outbreak, Mr Higgins urged citizens to “respond in a generous way to the Health Service Executive’s advice on measures to alleviate the spread of Covid-19”.

He appealed to young people to follow advice on maintaining a two metre social distance during the outbreak and to “spread the word among their friends of the importance of that which we have been asked to do”.

“In every generation there will be exceptions to what is being sought in the public interest. Let us hope that we have seen the end of such behaviour which puts all of us at risk.”

Mr Higgins said he hoped future generations will look back and “be proud of how we as a society rose to the challenges together, with different generations taking account of one another”.

“Many of the older people, of whose generation Sabina and I are a part, and to whom I have spoken, have been very appreciative of the large numbers of young people who are helping them, and that such assistance is offered in such a caring way that addresses issues of our older citizens that go far beyond the delivery of necessary groceries or food,” he said in a statement on Friday.

“These new health and social measures may be difficult for many but they affect us all and we are at a point now when a person’s actions have consequences not only for themselves but for all in society. Irresponsible individual action puts all at risk. We must draw on our strengths now.”

The President signed the Health (Preservation and Protection and other Emergency Measures in the Public Interest) Bill 2020 on Friday, which allows the State to shut down mass gatherings and potentially order groups of people in certain areas to stay in their homes.

Financial measures included in the legislation will allow people to be paid illness benefits if they are infected by coronavirus, or receive payment if they lose their job.