Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said that Ireland will face some of its darkest days in the weeks ahead as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
In a video message posted on Twitter on Sunday, Mr Varadkar said the country is preparing to reach its Covid-19 peak later this month.
“The number of hospitalisations and sadly the number of deaths continues to rise,” he said.
“So we cannot lose focus. We cannot lessen our efforts. In fact, we need to redouble them for the next few weeks.
“It’s more important than ever that we persevere. It’s possible that we haven’t seen the peak yet.
“When it comes, perhaps later this month, we will experience some of our darkest days. So we need to maintain our discipline and resolve in the knowledge that better days are to come.”
Highest daily total
The Department of Health on Saturday evening said a further 33 people in the State had died as a result of Covid-19, bringing the total to 320, and that 553 new cases were confirmed, the highest total for a single day. A total of 8,928 cases have been diagnosed in the State.
The Taoiseach on Friday announced that social and commercial restrictions, including on people’s movements, would remain in place until May 5th at least.
Mr Varadkar said that on Easter Sunday “whether we have faith or not” people should remember the Easter message “of suffering and sacrifice followed by rebirth and renewal and, above all, a message of hope as winter turns to spring”.
“When this emergency ends we will mourn the dead, comfort the bereaved and be together again,” he said.
“We will re-awaken the sleeping giant that is our economy, our people will go back to work and our businesses will reopen, and taking what we’ve learned, we will build a better society at the end of this — a great society for a great people.”
Time of hope
In his Easter statement, Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin said it is a time “of hope, rebirth and resurrection” and a time “when we remember the sacrifice made by those who fought to establish our independence as a nation”.
“This year, we remember particularly those who have lost their lives as a result of Covid-19. Our thoughts and prayers are with their families and loved ones in particular, as all of our deeply ingrained and hugely important rituals of grieving and comforting are put on hold.”
Mr Martin paid tribute to the responses of communities to the crisis, adding: “We particularly salute those at the frontline -our healthcare workers andall those in essential services such as retail, food supplies & manufacturing.
“I particularly think of our young people studying for their state examinations and the uncertainty they currently face. It is a particularly stressful time for them.”
In her speech to an online Sinn Féin national Easter commemoration, party leader Mary Lou McDonald said: “Those who fought and died for Irish freedom were ordinary people who demonstrated extraordinary levels of bravery, selflessness and determination.
“On the morning of the Easter Rising, many volunteers would have held their loved ones close, kissed their children and in a quieter moment, reflected on the enormity of the task ahead. This is the stuff of human heroism,” she said.
“It is this heroism we call on again today. Every day, frontline workers ,and our healthcare workers in particular, leave the sanctuary of their homes knowing that they will face trauma, sorrow and pain.
"Knowing that they face the possibility of a Coronavirus infection. And yet, they still do it. They walk into that storm. They put themselves at risk to help others."