“Knowing how important local media – local, community radio stations and local newspapers – is to all of our citizens and those, in particular, who are housebound, I am availing of this valuable resource to send a message to our citizens.
“May I send my best wishes to you all as we face, together, the challenge of responding to the global health emergency, Covid-19.
“In particular, Sabina and I offer our deepest sympathies to those who have been bereaved in recent days and weeks as a result of the pandemic. To those of you, too, who have loved ones in intensive care or who are waiting for results of a test, we offer our solidarity.
“The pain of losing a loved one to this cruel disease has been compounded for so many by the inability of friends and family to offer consolation and support in the way we usually would. The shake of a hand, a sympathetic touch, a comforting embrace, even our physical presence for those few days following a sudden loss, are not available to us for the very good reason that we are all involved in slowing and overcoming the virus.
“To all of those I have mentioned may I say while Sabina and I cannot share your grief, please know that we are with you, in thought and in spirit, and that we are thinking of you especially at this most difficult time.
“May I take this opportunity again to express my deep gratitude, mar Uachtarán na hÉireann, on behalf of the Irish people, to our health care workers, GPs, pharmacists and their staff, Defence Forces, and An Garda Síochána, all of whom are working tirelessly and selflessly to ensure the best care possible is being made available for those affected by the Coronavirus and also for the safety of all our citizens.
“We owe all of you an enormous debt of gratitude. We owe, too, a debt of gratitude to the many others who are risking their safety in order to ensure the continued delivery of necessary services – those who work in food production and essential retail, those who continue to care for the vulnerable, and the many others who are making an extraordinary and exemplary contribution to our country at this difficult time.
“This is a time when each and every one of us has been asked to make temporary but significant changes to our lives, so as to enable us to protect as best we can those who are most vulnerable to this virus. Further restrictions were introduced over the weekend and difficult as they are, I urge you to abide by them, for all of our sakes.
“For some of you, these changes have led to serious financial concern as you face the loss of income or even livelihoods. These are all issues that must be addressed. For others, social distancing and quarantine may have prevented you from being able to attend to sick relatives or to say final farewells to loved ones. My thoughts are with all of you who face such difficult circumstances.
“This is a global pandemic which challenges us. In recent years we have become familiar with the use of the term ‘globalisation’ – usually in relation to trade. We are now living through what is the globalisation of a common, shared vulnerability. This moment demands much of us as citizens but I believe that we are discovering within ourselves new capabilities in terms of human decencies of empathy and compassion.
“In recent days so many of you have been giving real, practical meaning to such terms as inclusion and equality.
“Molaim sibh agus iarraim oraibh leanúint leis an sár-obair.