At this time of year, every year, Irish people and friends of Ireland plan their St. Patrick’s Day celebrations.
However, this is not like any other year and so we are extremely disappointed that we have had to cancel our St. Patrick’s Day celebrations, here in Romania and around the world, in response to the global crisis we all face.
In normal circumstances, in an article like this, I would highlight the achievements and great progress we have made together, Ireland and Romania, as we mark 30 years of diplomatic relations.
But today, we face a challenge like we have never faced before.
In these circumstances, I believe that the message from the President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins, on our national holiday, gives eloquent expression to the spirit required of us all at this time.
In his message President Higgins said:
“The 17th of March is a day when we recall the life of St. Patrick, his transformative spirit, and the enormous legacy he has left behind as exile, migrant and apostle.
Today, as the world faces the global spread of the coronavirus we are called more than ever to follow the values embodied in the story of St. Patrick. Those values of solidarity and concern for the well-being of our fellow citizens will play a fundamental role in our effective confronting of the challenge with which we are now presented.
It is a challenge that calls on the tradition and practice of our communities working together, recognising the needs of all their members, and in particular those who are most vulnerable.
So often, as President of Ireland, I have been inspired and uplifted by the generous spirit of unity that I have witnessed in communities across the country. I have seen so many examples of care and compassion where communities have come together to look after their elderly and sick, and to ensure the welfare of those who are vulnerable and marginalised.
That spirit, I have no doubt, will come very much to the fore during this difficult time, which will require generous and compassionate citizenship as we work to keep all members of our community safe.
We must remember, of course, that we are also citizens of a wider global community. St Patrick’s Day has become a profound expression of a common history that extends far beyond Irish shores, and of the strong bonds we share with our wider global family despite the miles, borders and oceans that may separate us.
As members of that global community we must commit to working in a spirit of solidarity and co-operation, joining with citizens across the world in fighting this global health emergency.
On this day when we celebrate the feast of our patron saint, Patrick, let us draw on the best of our Irishness in order to create a safer future for ourselves and all those who live on our shared, vulnerable, planet.
On behalf of the people of Ireland, I extend a hand of friendship across the globe to all those who are Irish by birth, descent or association, and to all those who have assisted our Irish people, or who simply have an interest in things Irish.”
In conclusion, I would like to offer our very best wishes to all of those who are at the forefront of this crisis, the first responders, the medical professionals and those who are taking the vital decisions that will keep us safe.
Today, I wish you all a happy and peaceful St. Patrick’s Day.