On this St. Patrick’s Day 2022, as once again the darkness of war rather than the extension of peace covers our world, may I send, as Uachtarán na hÉireann, my warmest greetings and sincere good wishes to our Irish family across the world, and to all those who have been, remain and are working to be such good friends to Ireland. May the resilience of our people over the generations be available to all those who will need it now.
Ar an lá speisialta seo do glúnta d’ Éireannaigh agus a gcairde, iad a bhfuil suim acu i gcúrsaí Éireannaigh is rí-pribhléid beannachtaí na Féile Pádraig 2022
a sheoladh leo mar Uachtarán na hÉireann, chuig muintir na hÉireann ar fud an domhain.
Today, on our national feast day, we join together in whatever may be our circumstances, vulnerabilities or diversities to recall all those lessons that we, across the generations, have drawn as inspiration from our reflections on the life of St. Patrick, our national Patron Saint.
Wherever they may be, Irish people gather to celebrate the rich culture and heritage that speaks so profoundly of a shared past.
It is now two full years since we in Ireland, together with nations across the world, were plunged into facing a global pandemic that was unprecedented in our recent history.
We Irish found ourselves invoking some of the most basic values embodied in the story of St. Patrick – values such as solidarity, care, kindness and compassion.
It was inspiring and moving to see how our people sought to respond. These are values that the migrant Patrick could see as serving all humanity.
How much the offering of their hearts and doors to those fleeing distress affirms those values that show us all at our best.
It is our shared hope that we are beginning to emerge from the dark shadow of the pandemic, and we can do so in the knowledge that we, as a society, had workers that sought to give meaning to those most important values, by walking shoulder to shoulder with those suffering.
Personal risks were taken to keep us safe, by those who continued to work,
so often again and again at personal and family risk, whatever the task.
During that time of the Pandemic at its worst we learned so much about the cost of the decisions made and ethics on which true social solidarity must be built. We witnessed the power of an appeal for supportive, collective action in reducing public health risks. It was given.
We experienced the strength of community purpose and social care in helping us navigate our way through difficult and anxious times.
We saw, in villages, towns and suburbs across the country, people coming together to help each other. We were all moved in a particular way by the generous response of so many of our young people when asked to make enormous sacrifices in order to protect and keep safe an older generation.
We must never forget the frontline workers across society who make community life possible and able to be shared.
Across all of the sectors on which life and health depends they were prepared to risk their own health, and lives, in order to provide the vital services on which our citizens daily rely.
Our diaspora and their families in Ireland were called to make difficult painful sacrifices. They at great emotional and personal cost, put the public good ahead of their great human and family desire to be re-united.
Those postponed reunions I hope will, when they take place for so many of you, be enjoyed with good health and renewed joy.
Most importantly, and how hard it was for them in its insufficiency of contact,
my sympathy goes out to those grieving.
May I now do so again – those who lost loved ones during the Pandemic; who were unable to be with them during their final moments; and who could not avail of the traditional rites and ceremonies, so many of them see as central to Irish culture, that are so comforting to us all at a moment of bereavement and loss.
It is so important that it be recognized that this was a very deep sacrifice to pay for so many, and for whom the healing is hard to count. This is a matter far from finished for so many of our citizens.
We were reminded, as they spoke of their loss, time and again, that the warmth, awareness and cohesion of community remains an essential component of human life, that collective and public spirited human interaction are the essential elements that bind our communities together and form the essence of any true republic we may wish to achieve, now or in the future.
They are also the values that must lie at the heart of any true spirit of global citizenship. A dark shadow has now been cast across our world as we witness the unfolding events in Ukraine.
I know that the hearts of Irish people and Irish communities across the world go out to all of those who are suffering from this completely unacceptable, immoral and unjustified, invasion and violence to their lives.
Our greatest hope for a future of hope and peace springs from the open hearts and doors of those saying ‘tar isteach’, come in.
Let us, as one human family connected through our shared heritage, join with all those who stand in solidarity with the people of Ukraine as they struggle to protect their right to live in freedom, security and peace.
We, the peoples of the world must also now and with urgency unite our voices in demanding an immediate ceasefire, respect for humanitarian law, and the withdrawal of Russian troops.
We must all play our role with a restoration of independence and security to a nation that has demonstrated such courage, resilience and love of their country in recent times.
As we begin our tentative move towards a new post-pandemic world, let us bring with us the important lessons we have learnt and an enduring memory, not only of the inspiring behaviours we have witnessed, but how these can be harnessed to create a better, more inclusive society, a caring version of economy delivered in a way that meets for example the climate crisis of our times, and a world that supports and adheres to that great principle that is lodged in the words of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
It affirms that “recognition of the inherent dignity, and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family, is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world”.
St. Patrick’s life, we must never forget, was one defined by a transformative spirit and a will to not only envision but to create a better world. St. Patrick came to Irish shores as an outsider, an exile, a migrant.
He left behind him a profound and generous legacy which can shape the future of this island and the lives of generations of citizens to come. He is in all our traditions. We invoke him together.
Let us carry forward a generous spirit which he has enabled us to recover by acknowledging our role as citizens of the world, with a duty to stand in solidarity with all those across the globe who are vulnerable and in need.
The values of which I speak must be extended far beyond our shores, values which have such power to transcend oceans and borders and enable us to stand in solidarity with those in the developing world who continue to suffer the severe effects of the pandemic.
What a failure on vaccines the world has suffered. Universal and equitable access to vaccines is not only a critical component in our fight against the pandemic. It is also a recognition of the shared humanity by which we are bound together and which is so essential to the crafting of an ethical world.
In our inter-dependent world, we must ensure that in relation to the pandemic that we cross its finishing line together, no nation left behind.
Every year, as we celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, we join together as one global Irish family united by a shared heritage, history and culture. We do not allow boundaries and distance to stand in our way, but reach across them generously in a spirit of unity and friendship. We have a better future to make together. That great spirit is one we must extend to all those with whom we share this planet.
On this day during which we honour our Patron Saint, Patrick, a person whose life embodied the values of solidarity and a shared sense of humanity, let us do so by resolving to renew our commitment to upholding those values that guided his life.
As we connect to our wider Irish family and to the many friends of Ireland who celebrate with us, let us show positivity in embracing our role as global citizens, and take on and make into reality our responsibility to work with fellow citizens across all continents for a better, fairer and more inclusive world.
In Africa, from which comes images of desertification, of fellow humans and animals dying, and the parched earth itself, due to a climate change for which they are the least responsible, as they appear on our screens we are again listening sadly to the rhetoric of war.
The armaments industry absorbs our human, intellectual and technological resources while children die, and conflicts deepen. Militarism dominates the discourse where thoughts of peace might have flourished.
On this St. Patrick’s Day let us resolve to recover a space for the discourse of peace in our lives.
Agus muid ag ceiliúradh Lá Fhéile Pádraig 2022, guím arís lá sona agus síochánta orthu siúd go léir ar an t-oileán seo, na daoine sin ar Éireannaigh iad de thoradh a mbreithe nó a sinsir pé áit a bhfuil siad ar domhan agus na comhshaoránaigh domhanda sin a fhéachann orthu féin mar chairde Éireann.
As we celebrate St. Patrick’s Day 2022, may I wish again all those who share this island, all those Irish people by birth or descent wherever they may be in the world, and all those fellow global citizens who consider themselves to be friends of Ireland, a very happy and peaceful day.