(Source: MJ/Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference)

Bishop of Limerick Brendan Leahy has said that as a general public Ireland will need to continue to up its game in a collective fight to limit the potentially dreadful impact that COVID-19 can have on the nation.

In a statement March 29 after weekly Mass at St. John’s Cathedral, Bishop Leahy said that that the new measures introduced last week show that Ireland has to go to another level to protect the vulnerable and do all it can to ensure healthcare services, not least Intensive Care Units, can somehow cope with what’s ahead.

Everyone must buy into this, he said, adding that he was encouraged by the response of the public. It has been, he said, a clear sign that the Irish are willing to dig deeper to help avoid the horror being experienced in other nations, including close to home in Italy and Spain. 

But, he stressed, Ireland cannot let its guard down in this at any stage.

“There is too much at stake. We got the sad news [last week] that 14 people have lost their lives…. There will most likely be more and we pray for them and their families at this very sad time,” he said.

“We must accept that day by day we will be plunged deeper into this crisis but there is a way back. The measures taken on Friday night [March 27] are all about that, trying to limit the impact and the response from the public has been a collective statement of intent that we are willing to do what it takes.

“If we look to Italy and the horrific scenes there and scenes also coming out of Spain, it’s easy to visualise just how bad the outcome will be if don’t dig deep now. The words of one priest… interviewed on CNN hit deep and hard.

“He said ‘the sick were all alone as they lay dying.  They were people who died without anyone to hear or see them, without the possibility to talk to their loved ones, no one to comfort them’.

“Ireland doesn’t want to be that country and that’s why I believe the public is going to step up to the mark.

“What we must do is simple; stay at home except for absolutely essentials, wash hands when you have to go out and do it on return and keep your physical distance when those essential trips out have to be made.

“There is guidance on all this from the HSE website so please go there.”

Bishop Leahy said that these measures are all about protecting those most vulnerable from the virus and the creation of the Limerick COVID-19 Community Response in Limerick will be a key enabler of that locally.

It involves a coordinated effort that taps into the huge volunteer network already in existence across multi-organisations on the ground to ensure daily needs are met of the elderly, unwell or those either having had a confirmed diagnosis or who are isolating on suspicion of having COVID-19.

“The beauty of this new, collective and coordinated system is that the responder who will come to their home will be someone from their own community, someone they can trust,” he said.

“This initiative is also a sign of Limerick’s great spirit of collaboration, which is helping people see the true face of our city and county – a Treaty people, binding ourselves to one another in mutual support and up-building.

“There has been an incredible solidarity shown already across so many groups and initiatives even prior to that and we must be grateful for this.”

Bishop Leahy also had a special word for healthcare workers across the system and spoke of his own special thoughts for those working in the nationwide network of nursing homes and, particularly, their residents/patients.

“With so many elderly and sick residents living in these homes, we have to pray that they be spared the worst effects of the virus.

“Let’s pray that the wonderful efforts of their health carers protect as many of them as possible and that those same healthcare staff know that we think of them and keep them in our prayers, our thoughts and daily applause.

“We pray too that they are safe.”

Novena’s full coverage of the COVID-19 crisis:

Irish Primate deplores “horrendous” COVID-19 “devastation”

Irish Primate calls for “generosity and flexibility” from lenders and landlords as COVID-19 hits economy

COVID-19: Irish archbishop says “utter irresponsibility” not to maintain social distancing; priest blasts Catholics insisting on receiving on tongue

COVID-19: On sombre St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland, Primate calls for “outpouring of works of mercy”, church bells ring out in hope, solidarity


Progressive Catholic journalist, author and educator. Working on social justice, equality and Church renewal.