‘If we can winter this out, we can summer anywhere’
Ireland’s Ambassador to France Patricia O’Brien delivers a message of hope about overcoming the coronavirus challenge together
It feels like a long time has passed since we were looking forward to celebrating Saint Patrick’s day here in France and around the world.
March 17 came and went while we were all preoccupied with the Covid-19 crisis, but this is just one example in a long list of cancelled plans.
It seems that life beyond the essential has been on pause. The Taoiseach Leo Varadkar took early and decisive measures to close crèches, schools and universities on March 12.
In Ireland, further restrictions were introduced to close bars, restaurants and non-essential shops and services. Those aged over 70 have been asked to “cocoon”, a nice way of inviting the elderly to stay at home and safe. These measures will remain in Ireland until May 5.
A challenge of such magnitude reminds us that we are nothing without each other. No single person, organisation or government can defeat this virus alone, but with a spirit of cooperation, collaboration and solidarity, we will together.
A quote from Irish Nobel Laureate Seamus Heaney has struck a chord with Irish people around the world: “If we can winter this one out, we can summer anywhere.”
There is hope that we can pull through this time together and that the summer, real and metaphorical, is within reach. My Embassy staff are working hard to help Irish citizens in whatever way we can.
We have been using the Embassy Twitter account (@IrlEmbParis) and website (dfa.ie/france) to amplify information from French authorities as well as important information from Ireland regarding travel restrictions and the 14-day self-isolation for those planning to return to Ireland.
We have dedicated helplines at the ministry in Dublin and the Embassy in Paris to advise on travel and welfare issues for Irish citizens living in France or travelling back to Ireland.
This is an especially difficult time for those of you who are separated from your families, but we have never had so many ways to keep in touch.
The greatest strength of the Irish people is the sense of community we share with each other and friends in France.
Look after each other, look after yourselves, and look forward to good news in the coming weeks.