Michael D Higgins believes life after coronavirus will be "radically different" and that it will have a positive effect in the fight against climate change and inequality.
Speaking exclusively to the Sunday Independent, the President said of post-pandemic Ireland: "The future will be radically different and can facilitate not just a good and inclusive response to this crisis but an all-inclusive response to climate change and inequality that is adequate, comprehensive and that can break new ground in policy responses and scholarly work."
President Higgins said he had huge praise for Irish people in how they were dealing with the Covid-19 crisis.
"It was heart-lifting to see how creative people of all ages were and how they stretched themselves to do new things and with the best humour, as so many of their videos show."
He also revealed what he and his wife Sabina are missing most while cocooned in the Aras, saying: "One of the aspects of our work that we both hold most dear - meeting people and groups of citizens and hearing about their lives and their concerns and their initiatives - was brought to a halt. Thankfully the many letters I have received, and the many phone calls I have made, have given me a good idea of the richness and diversity of the many inspiring and thoughtful initiatives that people have taken to rise to the challenges we face from Covid-19."
He said although he was currently locked away because of Covid-19, he had not let that affect his work addressing some of the biggest issues facing the world, including climate change and global hunger. "I have been able to continue, and catch up with, my research," he said. "That was actually a benefit of having more time for concentrated work. I got to resume my contacts with researchers on some of the big issues. These are issues we as a nation will need to confront in the coming months: commemorating the seismic events in our history, adapting to climate change and biodiversity loss, addressing inequality, new challenges to global cooperation and multilateral institutions, global hunger."
The President also revealed he was looking into the ongoing economic effects of the crisis. "I am continuing to study the medium-term economic employment and financial implications of the pandemic, the threats and possibilities in terms of economic and social outfall and what new approaches might emerge from our forced period of reflection and how we can make the most positive use of our new circumstances as we exit from lockdown."
On day-to-day life in the current situation, he said: "Early on in the crisis I took the decision to reconfigure events, some rescheduled, some done in a different way. We used video messages, increased phone and mail contact and staff were asked to make preparations to ensure they could work from home and ensure the continued operation of the office."