Ireland’s president has told the country’s citizens they hold the power to reduce the severity and magnitude of the coronavirus emergency.
In an Easter message, Michael D Higgins said Irish people are being tested like few other times in recent memory.
Expressing solidarity with Irish citizens at home and abroad, the president stressed the importance of complying with restrictions to limit the spread of the disease.
Mr Higgins said he and wife Sabina will be joining the nationwide initiative on Easter Saturday night and putting lights outside their residence at Aras an Uachtarain to pay tribute to those battling the disease.
He said Easter 2020 will be a challenging time for so many.
“Over the past number of weeks, all of us have awoken abruptly to changes in our way of life,” he said.
“There is an uncertainty, anxiety and fear to be overcome as the coronavirus takes hold in our communities. We have all been asked to take more restrictive measures in order to stop the spread of the virus – measures that would have been unimaginable just a few weeks ago and which have presented a challenge to our resolve, to our way of life, be it how we work or socialise with others.
“As the number of coronavirus cases rises and the global death toll accumulates to shocking levels, it would be easy to become overwhelmed.”
The president said he and his wife are greatly aware of the pain and suffering the virus has caused, as he sent their condolences to the bereaved.
“All of what we are asked to do now is about saving lives, slowing the spread of the virus, and caring in the ways that have been suggested to us by medical advice, until a vaccine emerges,” he added.
Mr Higgins thanked Irish healthcare staff working in hospitals across Ireland and throughout the world.
He also commended others responding to the crisis, such as those providing vital goods and services.
The president sent his and Mrs Higgins’ solidarity to the millions of the Irish diaspora and thanked those helping out fellow emigrants from their homeland.
He added: “Easter is a time of hope, of rebirth, of new beginnings. That is what is central in the various religious services, the transcendence of suffering.
“Nature in its renewal offers us perennial hope as we deal with these difficult times. Just as the seasons change, this crisis, too, will pass, but its severity and magnitude are, to a large extent, in our hands.
“At Easter we are asked to muster our courage, keep faith with our possibilities so that we can be ready for our renewal.
“In keeping with the Easter message of hope, Irish people are being asked to place a light in their window tomorrow, the Saturday before Easter Sunday, a time so important in the symbolism of our Irish Independence.
“Sabina and I will light lanterns and place these at the doors in Aras an Uachtarain, symbolising our shared solidarity and offering a beacon of hope in a time of darkness.
“The days ahead may continue to be difficult, and for some I recognise they are more difficult than others, such as carers, but what a memory it will be, and legacy too, when the virus has passed to know that we gave of our best, and what a valuable memory it will be that we continued to save lives that would otherwise have been lost by co-operating and working with the measures suggested to us for the good of all.
“As President of Ireland, I send you Easter greetings wherever you may be, and wish you well in your solidarity, vigilance and tenacity during these difficult times when we are tested like few other times in recent memory.”
He concluded: “In the shadow of each other we live. May the hope and peace of Easter be with you all.”