Ireland’s President has paid tribute to frontline and emergency workers as the country marks a national day of commemoration for all those who died from Covid-19.
Michael D Higgins and his wife Sabina will hold a special Remembrance Ceremony at Aras an Uachtarain on Sunday.
Entitled To Honour And Hold in Memory, the event is being held for all those who died from Covid-19, those grieving the loss of loved ones and frontline workers.
Those attending the ceremony will include Tanaiste Leo Varadkar, party leaders, the Lord Mayor of Dublin, Alison Gilliland, and frontline workers from across the country.
Mr Higgins will address the event and then ring the Peace Bell five times in honour of those who died during the pandemic, who made sacrifices, who lost loved ones, for frontline workers and for those who still have Covid.
One minute’s silence will then be observed.
As part of the ceremony, Mr Higgins and his wife will plant an oak tree in the Commemorative Garden as a lasting memorial to all those lost during the pandemic.
Music will be performed by Iarla O Lionaird and Steve Cooney.
Mr Higgins said: “Today is a very solemn occasion, at which we will give honour and hold in memory those we have lost, as well those who have suffered the absence of an opportunity for final moments shared and who could not release their grief.
“In doing so, we reflect on the more than 6,600 people who have died as a result of Covid-19 in this country over the past two years, their grieving families, and all those still suffering from Covid and its consequences.
“Today we have to the forefront of our minds the more than half a million people in this country who lost loved ones during the pandemic, and all those, too, living abroad who have endured painful separation from loved ones at home in Ireland at times of great distress and grief.
“We recall how hard it was that there was no space for those normal expressions of grief that had to be curtailed because of the restrictions imposed, necessary as they were, to curtail the virus’s spread.
Our thoughts are with relatives of the more than 6 million people who have died across the globe as a result of the virusMichael D Higgins
“We think too of those carers who had to forgo offering their care and visits to those they love.
“Of course, Covid is not over. The pandemic is still rampant in many parts of the world, particularly in poorer countries that have limited access to vaccines.
“Our thoughts are with relatives of the more than 6 million people who have died across the globe as a result of the virus. We must continue our efforts through the international institutions, such as the World Health Organisation, to support the rollout of vaccinations in those countries with lower vaccination rates.
“Many here in Ireland and elsewhere also struggle on with the long-term effects of the virus, dealing with ongoing symptoms and fatigue which has become a debilitating side-effect of what has been termed ‘Long Covid’.
“Many have also suffered in other ways, through isolation, through missed chances to share the major milestones of life, through an increased exposure to the threat of domestic violence, and in so many more ways.
“We owe a great debt of thanks to all our frontline and emergency workers, all those voluntary and non-governmental organisations who have provided such vital supports to victims and the vulnerable, and to all those throughout our communities who have undertaken such countless acts of kindness and service.
“We cannot ever say it too often: today is a day in which we honour our frontline workers who ensured that our society and economy were able to function at a most basic level, providing essential services needed for subsistence, be it health or retail.
“All those workers, whatever the task, took risks to personal health.
“A heightened recognition now exists across society, I believe, regarding the need to value much essential work that we have been undervaluing and, may I say, in so many instances, underpaying.”