President of Ireland offers moving tribute to Irish nurses on International Nurses' Day
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President of Ireland offers moving tribute to Irish nurses on International Nurses' Day

THE PRESIDENT of Ireland has led a heartfelt tribute to Ireland's nurses and midwives on International Nurses' Day.

President Michael D Higgins has today offered his heartfelt thanks to Irish nurses at home and the world over, recognising their "irreplaceable contribution" to society.

"It is a great pleasure and a privilege to have the opportunity to recognise the contribution that the 67,000 nurses and midwives in Ireland have made to our society," he said.

He went on to acknowledge that the theme to this year's International Nurses' Day-- "A Voice to Lead - Nursing the World to Health", is an apt one, as nurses and midwives make up half the world's workforce, and each one of them are putting their lives on the line to assist in the global battle against Covid-19.

"Today, we are invited to celebrate the part that nurses have played, and will continue to play, in all our lives," President Higgins continued. "Theirs is a fundamental role, and currently it is a critical role, as countries around the world are dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic crisis and its tragic consequences."

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"There can be no doubt that working in a profession such as nursing brings profound responsibilities, and is demanding physically, intellectually and emotionally. To embark on such a career requires certain qualities in order for it to be a fulfilling and enriching experience for both patient and professional."

He praised nurses for choosing their career through their "strength of character, the compassion and the commitment to make such a positive contribution to society", and said "having a career in which you use your knowledge and skills to relieve a person’s suffering is such a positive contribution to make, and one we have come to appreciate more fully in recent times."

President Higgins acknowledged that "society sometimes failed to value you fully". (Picture: President.ie)

"For those who choose to work as nurses and midwives, it means encountering the pain, suffering, fear, anxiety and exhaustion of patients, their families and loved-ones, as well as their joy and relief – the full gamut of human emotions.

"For many patients and their families, coming to terms with a difficult diagnosis, navigating a complex health system and the decisions and choices necessary to ensure they or their loved one will receive the best care possible can be an emotionally exhausting and lonely experience.

"The work nurses do in helping them on that demanding journey is often invaluable, making a frightening and challenging time easier by your compassion and care."

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President Higgins went on to say that it was "vital" that the world does not forget the inherent value of frontline nurses, and the crucial work they do, once the pandemic is over.

"It would be so regrettable, egregious even, if, through some form of collective amnesia, we as a society were ever to disregard or forget your heroic efforts, and revert to where we were before the pandemic – a society that sometimes failed to value you fully."

He concluded with a final call "to honour the contribution of the nursing profession, and the women and men who continue to risk their lives and their security to support us, as we slowly emerge from this dark period into one of hope."