The pandemic has shown how interdependent people are and has brought about the thinking that there are “certain essential things you need to live”, President Michael D Higgins has said.
Speaking on RTÉ’s Brendan O’Connor radio show on Saturday, the President said this thought process arose also following the second World War, and led to the establishment of Britain’s National Health Service and the building of public housing.
“People thought, having been through what they did, that to be able to live together there were certain essential things you needed to do … What that gives you is the largest number of people living in security from most of the great challenges in life.”
The relationship between the State and the private sector must be redefined for the benefit of the public and to ensure the largest number of people can lead a secure life, Mr Higgins said.
He said it was “time we debated what we should leave to the market and what we should have by way of general public provision”.
The President also said the cyberattack on the HSE was “a crime of an extraordinary impact” causing suffering to the most vulnerable and dependent people.
He said his “heart has gone out to those people who have appointments re-scheduled” as a result of the attack.
Time of hope
The President said the country is “most definitely” entering a time of hope. “There are so many sections of the population who have had it hard,” he said, noting small business owners, people working in hospitality and people living in cramped conditions.
He has been lucky with the grounds of the Áras to stroll around, he said, but is now looking forward to meeting people and travelling around the country again.
“I have always gotten great energy from meeting people,” he said.