We are a resilient people, but this pandemic has tested us like never before

Today marks a new dawn in our fight against covid, according to Social Democrats co-leader Róisín Shortall.

“Today marks a new dawn in our fight against covid as we make preparations for what will hopefully be the final unravelling of the restrictions that have dominated all of our lives for so long. It is a day of hope and expectation, but one that is also tinged with sadness as we remember the lives lost to covid.

“We are a resilient people, but this pandemic has tested us like never before. The Irish people rose to the challenge – working together, while remaining separate, to save lives and protect our hospitals from being overwhelmed by a tidal wave of infection.

“There have been false dawns before, but thanks to the success of our vaccination programme, and the sacrifice and hard work of the Irish people, we can be hopeful that this time it will be different.

“Returning to normal life will not be without its challenges. Given the omnipresent threat covid has posed for so long, there will be some trepidation as we emerge from the restrictions. This caution is understandable. Covid has wreaked a terrible toll on all of our lives – in terms of illness, bereavement, unemployment, isolation and anxiety – and its destructive impact will not be forgotten quickly.

“As we begin this new phase, we must learn the lessons that covid has taught us – particularly in relation to ventilation and air purification. When it comes to schools, and the necessity to ensure they remain open, we must see a rapid roll out of CO2 monitors for every single classroom in the country.

“Those, who are unable to return to work imminently, as a result of the last remaining restrictions, must not be abandoned. The PUP and employment supports must be retained until the entire edifice of public health guidelines has been dismantled.

“Our lives have been in a state of apprehensive suspension for more than 18 months. We are all eager for a return to normality – but we must remain ever vigilant, having regard to hospital and ICU admission, until we are sure that the threat has receded. Then, we can truly start a new chapter.”

31 August, 2021


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