Michael Martin says "we have seen the very best of our State’s public service"
Tributes are being paid to emergency services and frontline staff during the severe weather.
Health Minister Simon Harris praised health service staff all over the country for their "incredible dedication and commitment"
"They are going to huge efforts to keep vital services open and ensure patients are looked after in very difficult conditions.
"From across Ireland I have heard stories today of health care workers walking to work, staying past their shifts, sleeping in hospitals overnight, and going above and beyond the call of duty to ensure their patients get the care they need.
"I would also like to thank our paramedics for transporting patients in very difficult conditions, Civil Defence staff for helping deliver crucial medication and the Defence Forces for transferring dialysis patients and medicines, as well as helping our dedicated health staff to get to work safely.
"Let us all support our committed health care staff by ensuring we keep emergencies for emergencies.
"I would also like to take this opportunity to appeal to people to check in on your vulnerable friends, relatives and neighbours, when it’s safe to do so, to make sure they are well and warm."
Some 17 babies were also born on Thursday in the National Maternity Hospital.
Minister Harris tweeted:
17 babies born in the National Maternity Hospital since 8am today. Despite the adverse weather, our dedicated health professionals continue to keep our health services running. Sincere thanks to them all. How many babies called Emma, I wonder!— Simon Harris TD (@SimonHarrisTD) March 1, 2018
The Taoiseach Leo Varadkar also visited Holles Street Hospital in Dublin, thanking the staff there:
I called into Holles St this afternoon to say thanks to the staff working today. No matter what the weather, there are babies to be delivered and new mums to care for. Thanks for all the hard work. pic.twitter.com/K51HsExv2j— Leo Varadkar (@campaignforleo) March 1, 2018
While Fianna Fáil leader, Micheál Martin also paid tribute to Ireland’s front line and emergency services.
“Over the past 48 hours, we have seen the very best of our State’s public service. They have gone about their jobs diligently and with courage.
“Whether it’s local authority workers, An Garda Síochána, the National Ambulance Service, the wider Health Service, the Civil Defence, the Defence Forces, workers in our transport companies, or those keeping the lights on or keeping us connected, they are ensuring that our country keeps moving and that our fellow citizens are kept safe.
Westmeath CD: It's been a busy day for volunteers particularly our 4x4 jeeps and crews transporting essential nursing staff and care workers from around the county to and from hospitals, care homes and home visits to ill people. #stormemma @WestmeathCd pic.twitter.com/rrrhLbhIdU— Civil Defence IRL (@CivilDefenceIRL) March 1, 2018
“While we have not seen the full brunt of Storm Emma yet, I am confident that each and every person working on behalf of the State will continue to serve with diligence, commitment and indeed bravery.
“Unfortunately, it is only at times like this, when crises emerge, do we usually acknowledge their work and service.
"On behalf of my party and of myself personally, I want each and every one of them to know that we are incredibly grateful to them.
“I want, in particular, to thank the families of our front line and emergency workers.
"They share their loved ones with the State, and it must be particularly difficult for them to see them head off into the storm to ensure that their neighbours and community are safe when all they want is for their loved ones to be at home with them."
Meanwhile, the Irish Red Cross (IRC) said it responded to 20 call-outs on Wednesday, mainly in the south and the east of the country.
A total of 60 triaged and prioritised calls, requested by the National Ambulance Service, were attended to by the three national voluntary ambulance services.
Twenty of these were handled specifically by the Irish Red Cross.
The call-outs ranged from patient transfers (including transport of dialysis patients) to HSE-staff transfers (including transfer of public health nurses), to triaged urgent patient discharges - along with other essential support calls in Laois, Cork, Wexford, Waterford, Louth, Meath, Dublin, Kildare, Offaly and Tipperary.