President Higgins: Coronavirus crisis an opportunity for society to 'do things better'

President Michael D Higgins has said the coronavirus crisis is an opportunity for the world and society to “do things better” in the future.
President Higgins: Coronavirus crisis an opportunity for society to 'do things better'

President Michael D Higgins has said the coronavirus crisis is an opportunity for the world and society to “do things better” in the future.

The world can't “drift into some notion that we can recover what we had and that that would be sufficient.”

Speaking on Newstalk’s Pat Kenny show, President Higgins expressed his deepest sympathies on behalf of the Irish people to the families of those who have died.

Irish people have been “responding wonderfully” to the coronavirus crisis, he said. “I think it is a very hard time - harder than usual because of how the expression of grief is curtailed by the arrangements that have to be there in the interests of people’s health and safety.

“I think we’re coming now to perhaps the biggest part of the test. Can we in fact continue and strengthen the efforts we have been making? That’s, I think, very, very important."

The President welcomed Thursday night’s nationwide applause for healthcare workers, and said that frontline staff are “taking personal risk in the interest of our collective welfare and health and safety.”

The importance of those who do the “basic jobs that enable society to function - the people who are driving supplies, the people who produce food, the people who arrange for it to go on the shelves… the people who do all of the things that maybe we have taken for granted,” he said.

President Higgins added that the US response so far has seen 'corporate benefits exceed the ordinary families'. He also said that the European Central Bank had “wobbled at first,” and that “releasing an enormous amount of credit without having some idea of where it is going to lodge is an insufficient instrument.”

President Higgins said that while times are difficult at present, it provides an opportunity to re-evaluate the way things were before the current emergency.

“When we come out of this we will not be going back to the insecurity of where we have before.

“We have learned lessons in relation to healthcare and equality in relation to what is necessary in terms of income and the necessities of life. There will be a wonderful opportunity to do things better.

“This crisis will pass - but remember there will be other viruses. We can’t let ourselves be in the same vulnerable position again. There are opportunities for looking at the whole architecture of global finance and European finance.”

The President said the current situation provides an opportunity to accept collective responsibility in responding to climate change and sustainability, as well as taking responsibility for global poverty. He encouraged people to now examine “instincts we may have suppressed where individualism may have driven out a sense of the collective.”

“What’s going to emerge globally is the unanswerable case there is now, of having universal basic services, a floor of basic services that will be there to protect us in the future, but also from which we can depart to be able to enable people to have a sufficiency of what they need.

“This is what happened after the wars, after the Great Recession in 1929. We need the best of thinking, and we may have to lay aside a lot of the assumptions and critically examine them to be able to take advantages out of this.

“We can’t drift into some notion that we can recover what we had and that that would be sufficient - that game is over.”

[snippet1]987600[/snippet1]

More in this section

Puzzles logo
IE-logo

Puzzles hub

Visit our brain gym where you will find simple and cryptic crosswords, sudoku puzzles and much more. Updated at midnight every day. PS ... We would love to hear your feedback on the section right HERE.

Puzzles logo
IE-logo

Puzzles hub

Visit our brain gym where you will find simple and cryptic crosswords, sudoku puzzles and much more. Updated at midnight every day. PS ... We would love to hear your feedback on the section right HERE.