Nation must be courageous as ‘dark days’ of Covid-19 challenge us, Higgins says

‘As seasons change, this crisis will pass,’ President says ahead of St Brigid’s Day

President Michael D Higgins says while Covid-19 restrictions are necessary, it is important to be sensitive to the ‘profound impact’ they have ‘on so many’. File photograph: Stephen Collins/Collins Photos

President Michael D Higgins says while Covid-19 restrictions are necessary, it is important to be sensitive to the ‘profound impact’ they have ‘on so many’. File photograph: Stephen Collins/Collins Photos

 

The nation must be courageous as the “dark days” of the Covid-19 pandemic continue to challenge us, President Michael D Higgins has said.

Speaking ahead of St Brigid’s Day on Monday, Mr Higgins said as we prepare to move into the brighter, warmer days of spring, with the renewed hope that it brings, the reality of the present is that “the winter of the Covid pandemic is still upon us and continues”.

Mr Higgins said while Covid-19 restrictions are justified and necessary, it is important to be sensitive to the fact they have “had a profound impact on so many and for some more than others”.

“The dark days of the pandemic will continue to challenge us for some time and, while lockdown fatigue is very real and palpable for so many, we must continue our journey within and muster up courage,” he said.

“Moving through such moments of darkness, it is important to celebrate the light that comes from our common determination to see out the challenge. Just as the seasons change, this crisis, too, will pass.

“As an old Caribbean song puts it: ‘Time heals everything.’ How long it will take and how high the price is that we will pay for it depends, to a large extent, on how we react today and in the weeks ahead,” Mr Higgins said.

Lives lost

The President said since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, thousands of people have lost their lives to the virus, many of whom were left without “the intimacy of their passing or the opportunity to grieve as they would wish”.

“Countless people too have seen their lives radically altered, their livelihoods curtailed and the social bonds, from which they drew comfort and joy, ruptured,” he said.

“It is appropriate that we all pause to acknowledge the distress of all those for whom the pandemic has brought such pain and loss and all those who are now experiencing loneliness and isolation from the contacts with those who previously sustained them.”

Patroness of healing

Mr Higgins said St Brigid was a “powerful woman” and the patroness of healing, the arts, fertility and agriculture.

“St Brigid was a woman who rejected the conventions of her time, who dedicated herself to innovation in the realm of education and who, in seeking to ensure that her voice was heard in a male-dominated world, had to summon an extraordinary courage, transcend obstacles and not just survive but put a new version of things in place,” he said.

“How appropriate, then, our invoking her is for our present circumstances,” Mr Higgins said. “Generations of Irish women have benefited from her inspiration and legacy. Today, as we recall her story with admiration, may we also resolve to seek inspiration in her example, to pursue our ideal of equality, universal respect for rights and a better world for all our citizens, male and female.”

As we celebrate the “courage and commitment” of St Brigid in her day, the President said: “We in our day pay tribute to all of those who, in their different ways, continue to put their lives at risk as they continue their important work, for the benefit of all of us – their fellow citizens.

“Future generations will recall, I am sure, and feel grateful for the enormous debt of gratitude we owe to all those workers who have responded to the pandemic with such courage, misneach, such care, cúram, and with a spirit of solidarity, dlúthpháirtíocht,” he added.