A Day of Remembrance and Recognition.
Today, St Patrick’s Day, I am celebrating in Greece as part of a Government wide reconnection with communities at home, and abroad.
Tomorrow, the 18th March has been designated a public holiday, a Day of Remembrance and Recognition, in memory of more than 6,600 people who have died from COVID in the Republic of Ireland since the start of the pandemic.
It has been 2 years like no other for so many of us. Too many have paid the ultimate price, leaving family, friends and communities to mourn their passing. I send you my deepest condolences. I don’t anticipate that one day of Remembrance will ease the pain to any great extent, but I do hope that it gives a sense that you are not alone; that as a society we recognise the loss that you are experiencing.
There are those who have persistent symptoms as a result of COVID and those who continue to isolate due to an underlying vulnerability. There are those who have lost their livelihoods. I see you and will continue to do what I can for you.
I also see, not least in my own home, the children and young adults who have lost 2 important years of exploration and development as you find your feet towards independence.
While we have not seen the last of COVID - it still lingers in our society - with a toolbox of knowledge, experience and vaccines I hope you can make up for that time, in a safe manner.
So many of you, either through your professional roles or as volunteers stood fast to help others in the face of COVID. As above, I don’t believe one day of Recognition or any amount of Government measures can adequately acknowledge all who have played a role. Whether by going to work, volunteering or staying at home you have contributed to a remarkable societal level response. As an Irish person I am immensely proud today.
I am aware of Commemorative events across both Laois and Offaly over the next few days which unfortunately, due to prior commitments, I am unable to attend. I will be in attendance at the Garden of Remembrance on Sunday to take part in a national event. My thoughts will be with you, wherever you are as we stand in respectful remembrance of all who have been lost and in thankful recognition of all who worked from a place of professionalism, kindness or community spirit to make the situation more bearable for the rest of us.
Lá Fheile Pádraig Sona Duit.