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Letter from Ambassador O’Brien to the Irish Community in France, 26 March 2020

Letter from Ambassador O’Brien to the Irish Community in France, 26 March 2020

Staying in touch and looking out for each other more important than ever

Dear friends - a chairde – mes chers amis,

It feels like a long time has passed since we were looking forward to celebrating St. Patrick's day here in France and around the world. March 17th 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 is on pause right now.

A challenge of such magnitude reminds us that we are nothing without each other. As the saying in Irish goes, “Ní neart go cur le chéile”. No single person, organisation or government can defeat this virus alone, but with a spirit and mindset of cooperation, collaboration and solidarity, we will do this together. After a period of disjointed confusion, we are now finding common solutions and, in the words of President Higgins, "a stirring of power to go on towards the space of sharing." (from the poem Take Care, published on Wednesday)

Embassy staff are working hard to help and advise Irish citizens in whatever way we can, and you can also help each other. Most of you know at least one other Irish person here in France – reach out to them. If you are a member of a sports club, or a community organisation, keep those networks alive online and connect with each other.

This is an especially difficult time for those of you who are separated from your families in Ireland, but we have never had so many ways to keep in touch. Social isolation presents a particular challenge to our mental health, so check in with each other frequently and talk openly about how you are coping with this difficult situation. If you find yourself struggling, help is at hand - organisations such as SOS Help can provide support and advice.

The greatest strength of the Irish people is our community. Look after each other, look after yourselves and look forward to good news – it will come, eventually!

Beir bua agus beannacht,
Patricia

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