May I offer to each and every one of you my warmest greetings and my wishes for a peaceful and happy Christmas for you all.
This last year has been a challenging one and for some more than others.
Throughout this past year we have again been called on to change and adapt our lives as we continue to battle with the great global challenge that is the impact of the Coronavirus Pandemic. Your response has been one that showed courage, resilience, patience and a deep commitment to others. May I pay tribute to you all for your efforts. The successful roll-out of the Covid-19 Vaccine Programme to citizens across the country has enabled a sense of renewed hope and possibility to enter our lives, for which we can be deeply grateful.
I am, however, profoundly aware of the many people who have lost loved ones to Covid-19 during 2021, and may I extend to you my deepest sympathies at this difficult time, when we remember them all.
This year Sabina and I have chosen, for our official Christmas card from Áras an Uachtaráin, Bartolomé Esteban Murillo’s depiction of the Flight into Egypt. It represents a story of a journey impelled by a great will to protect others – a journey undertaken in great darkness but navigated in a spirit of trust and hope.
All of you, in your lived daily lives, have been called upon to play your own part as we faced the challenge of Covid-19. It is a challenge to which you have risen with commitment and generosity, making the sacrifices necessary to protect your loved ones and your fellow citizens. It has been heart-warming to witness all of our people, across different generations, offering and delivering those expressions of solidarity, kindness, compassion and care for others, and to be given the assurance that those values remain as a source of inspiration in the lives of our communities.
I am also, at this time of Christmas, deeply conscious of the circumstances of many of our Irish abroad, and of those too living in Ireland whose families are overseas, so many of whom have had to endure long and perhaps painful separations, often at times of great worry or distress. May I take this opportunity to pay tribute to you for your forbearance and commitment, and assure you that your sacrifices for the greater good have been greatly appreciated by the people of Ireland.
Today we are once more in a period of adjustment, with new measures appropriate to new circumstances, as we hope to emerge from the Pandemic. From what we are going through together, as well as the efforts we are sharing, I am confident that we will have been building a better, shared future, one rooted in that spirit of unselfish citizenship that has been so visible in recent times.
The Pandemic has once again reminded us too of how interconnected and interdependent in a global sense we are; the responsibilities, as well as the benefits, that brings, of how the quality of our response to that interconnection and interdependence matters, indeed will affect our very survival together.
Last month, world leaders met in Glasgow at the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference, to address the increasingly urgent climate crisis. We are now at a critical juncture in this battle, one that requires vital and meaningful change from all of us, in every aspect of our lives, be it how we produce, consume or behave, if we are to limit global warming.
This is a challenge where we will once again be required to play a selfless part, as we work to make the lifestyle changes necessary to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. As global citizens, we must seek to define and engage in new models of living, remembering that the significant decisions which are being taken at conference tables around the world must now be translated into altered behaviours in our daily lives if we are to protect our planet, and ensure it remains hospitable to current and future generations.
Our new models of living, we must not forget, are much more than protection. They offer a better life in so many ways. They invite us to better more sustainable, flourishing, equal lives together, on a shared planet.
At this time of year, in our cities and towns, and in our homes, as lights are lit, and we seek to illuminate the dark mid-winter days, and look forward to the light of spring, let us do so with a spirit of joy and anticipation. Soon the days will begin to lengthen and we will enter a season of renewal and growth. As we move towards those brighter days, let us remain committed to each other, strengthen those values which will too ensure that we will have a special regard for the vulnerable. As we emerge from this difficult time let us take confidence from the strength that working together brings, that gives so much power to achieve a better future on our shared and vulnerable planet.
Once again, may I wish you a safe and Happy Christmas, and a New Year of hope, promise and fulfilment.
Nollaig Shona daoibh go léir.