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'We can’t drift into some notion that we can recover what we had - that game is over' - President Michael D Higgins

President Higgins says Ireland will have learned lessons in healthcare and life after coronavirus pandemic passes

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President Michael D Higgins. Photo: Maxwells Dublin

President Michael D Higgins. Photo: Maxwells Dublin

President Michael D Higgins. Photo: Maxwells Dublin

President Michael D Higgins has said that there will be an “unanswerable case” of a need for universal basic services globally once the coronavirus crisis is over.

He said that “the game is over” to the “notion” that Ireland can recover what it had and that this would be “sufficient”.

Speaking with Pat Kenny on Newstalk this morning, the President said that basic services should be put in place to protect people in the future.

“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,” he said.

He explained that the advantages need to be taken out of the ongoing crisis.

“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.”

The president reminded the public that while the virus will pass, Ireland cannot find itself in the same situation again as it has learned lessons in healthcare and equality.

“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,” he explained.

He added that this will make for a “wonderful” chance for improvement.

“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.”

Speaking to presenter Pat Kenny, he said that the country is coming to “the biggest part of the test” as funeral restrictions mean that people are unable to grieve properly.

“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, I think, is very, very important,” he said.

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