President Michael D Higgins says he and his wife Sabina will both be getting a COVID-19 vaccine when it's offered.
He said he’ll be ‘very glad’ to get it once they start vaccinating people aged between 75 and 80.
President Higgins was speaking on St Brigid’s Day - an occasion which has prompted the president to issue a message to the people of Ireland.
Speaking to Moncrieff, President Higgins said this year in particular - as the pandemic continues - it’s important for people to remember the “season will change and these circumstances will change”.
He said: “It’s very important that we’re not stuck in the circumstances of COVID - we will come out of them, and those circumstances will change. It’s very important to talk about that.
“I hope that when people come out of COVID, they come out committed to doing things differently… we really have to think about our broken relationship with nature… it has to be repaired… and then, as well as that, our connection with each other.”
"I’ve missed the contact"
President Higgins said he has missed being able to have more contact with others over the last year.
He observed: “I’ve continued everything I do by way of writing, and my contacts internationally… I do Skype pieces as well. But I’m neither enormously competent [at] nor a great advocate of the technology as the alternative to the human meeting. I’ve missed the contact.
“I go for a walk sometimes on the periphery of the Áras… and just across the moat are the people in the Phoenix Park. People are walking their dogs and I have an odd chat with them… socially distant.
“I hope now in relation to when they’re doing the measurements about the distance you can be from your home, I hope it’s as far as the gate of Phoenix Park - once you get as far as the gate, the clock shouldn’t be running. I hope that’s the interpretation - but that’s probably someone else’s decision.”
However, he said he’s glad to see some practices returning, such as people writing to each other more.
For now, President Higgins said he’s not a fan of some of the language used around the pandemic - such as ‘jab’ and ‘cocooning’ - as well as how the vaccination programme is sometimes shown on TV.
He said: “The way they present it… surely it’s possible to present in the news an image of people getting vaccinated without having to hold out their arms to have a needle going into it… that’s such a lack of imagination in television production, in my view. But that’s neither here nor there.
"We have to encourage it. Isn’t it great that 85% of people are in favour of the vaccination?
“Sabina and I are in the category… 75-80. When they start that category, we’ll both be getting it. I’m not sure if it will be necessary to be showing which arm I had it on… [but] I’ll be very glad to get it.”