COVID-19: Ireland’s president commends courage in pandemic in Christmas message and urges commitment on climate

Ireland’s president has commended the “courage, resilience, patience and deep commitment to others” in response to the global pandemic.

In his annual Christmas and New Year message, Michael D Higgins extended his sympathies to those who had lost loved ones to COVID-19 in 2021.

Ireland has recorded a total of 5,890 coronavirus-related deaths and 673,000 cases.

But the head of state said the successful roll-out of the vaccine programme had “enabled a sense of renewed hope and possibility”.

President Higgins said: “All of you, in your lived daily lives, have been called upon to play your own part as we faced the challenge of COVID-19.

“It is a challenge to which you have risen with commitment and generosity, making the sacrifices necessary to protect your loved ones and your fellow citizens.

“It has been heart-warming to witness all of our people, across different generations, offering and delivering those expressions of solidarity, kindness, compassion and care for others, and to be given the assurance that those values remain as a source of inspiration in the lives of our communities,” he added.

President Higgins said he was deeply conscious of the Irish abroad and those living in Ireland with families overseas, who have had to endure long separations.

He continued: “Today we are once more in a period of adjustment, with new measures appropriate to new circumstances, as we hope to emerge from the pandemic.

“From what we are going through together, as well as the efforts we are sharing, I am confident that we will have been building a better, shared future, one rooted in the spirit of unselfish citizenship that has been so visible in recent times.

“The pandemic has once again reminded us too of how interconnected and interdependent in a global sense we are; the responsibilities, as well as the benefits, that brings, of how the quality of our response to that interconnection and interdependence matters, indeed will affect our very survival together,” he added.

Reflecting on the UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow last month, he said Ireland would be required to play “a selfless part” at this “critical juncture” in the climate crisis.

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“Our new models of living, we must not forget, are much more than protection. They offer a better life in so many ways,” he said.

“They invite us to better, more sustainable, flourishing, equal lives together, on a shared planet.”

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