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Speech of An Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar T.D., Confirmation of Phase 3

Check Against Delivery

Good evening.

I am pleased to confirm that following the expert advice of NPHET we will move to Phase 3 on Monday when almost all remaining businesses, amenities and workplaces can re-open.  We have also decided to begin easing travel restrictions between Ireland and some other countries from July 9th. Details of other modifications will be provided.

The past few months have not been easy for anyone.  This evening I offer once again my condolences to everyone who has lost loved ones during this Emergency.  In the months ahead, I hope we can have a National Day of Commemoration so we can mourn together as a nation and grieve for those we have lost.

Our country has suffered greatly.  Our mental health has been eroded.  Some people became sick, many more were sick with worry. 

People lost their jobs and were worried about their livelihoods and their futures.  We worried about family, we worried about friends, we worried about ourselves.

This has been a tough time for all of us.  We have come through it as a country.  We must now try to repair the damage that has been done, across all parts of our lives, and show the same solidarity in doing so.

I believe that if we show the same courage, the same determination, and the same care for each other, we will overcome these new challenges as well.

I have been Taoiseach now for three years and it has been the greatest honour of my life.  I think I have learned more in the past three months than I have in a lifetime of politics.  I have learned that hope is stronger than fear and that working together we can defeat any challenge. We are an extraordinary people 

I pray that our country never has to go through something like this again, but if we do we need to learn the lessons and we need to be prepared for a second wave, or for a completely different kind of public emergency. 

It is possible that this is my last press conference as your Taoiseach.  If so, I want to end it by saying Thank You to the men and women who kept our country protected, and guided us through this Emergency.

Our country owes a profound debt to the Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Tony Holohan, who became one of the most trusted figures in the country and made us all feel that we were in safe hands. 

We thank Liz Canavan of the Department of the Taoiseach who provided daily briefings and whose command of the crisis gave us confidence and belief.  And the countless civil and public servants who worked behind the scenes to keep our country on its feet.

To the men and women of NPHET, and the various committees and experts groups who advised, guided and shaped our healthcare response.

We thank our doctors, nurses, and healthcare staff who day after day put other people first as they fought against a disease that showed no mercy.

During this crisis we redefined what frontline work really means.

We learned that not all heroes wear scrubs, some wear supermarket uniforms, some deliver our post, or drive our trains and buses.  They are our Gardaí, our journalists and broadcasters, and the women and men who found new ways to keep our spirits up during this Emergency.  They are the people all around us. 

This evening I will end with no poem, no quote, no words of inspiration.  None are needed.  Until now we needed some hope to cling to, but your actions have turned that hope into a reality. 

So instead I will end by thanking each and every one of you.  Only you know the true weight of the burden you carried over the past few months.  I know that sometimes you were able to share that burden, sometimes you had to carry it alone.  I am sorry for everything you had to go through. 

Your actions – your choices – your sacrifices – your decisions –changed the destiny of our country and saved us from the worst. By following the public health advice – by choosing to restrict your lives – you helped suppress the virus and you saved lives.