“This Is The Calm Before The Storm”



Taoiseach Leo Varadkar addressed the nation live on RTÉ and Virgin Media One.

During his address, broadcast under Section 122 of the Broadcast Act 2009, Mr Varadkar said:

“Lá Fhéile Pádraig shona daoibh. This is a St Patrick’s Day like no other. A day that none of us will ever forget.

“Today’s children will tell their own children and grandchildren about the national holiday in 2020 that had no parties, no parades but instead saw everyone staying at home to protect each other.

“In years to come, let them say of us, when things were at their worst, we were at our best.

“Our country is making big demands of our healthcare staff and big demands of every single one of us. Tonight I want you to know why these actions are being taken and what more needs to be done.

“We’re in the middle of a global and national emergency. A pandemic. The likes of which none of us have seen before. So far, the number of cases in Ireland has been relatively small. However we believe the number will rise to 15,000 cases or more by the end of the month and rise further in the weeks thereafter.

“The vast majority of us who contract Covid-19 will experience only a mild illness. But many  will be hospitalised and, sadly, some people die. We can’t stop the virus but working together we can slow it in its tracks and push it back.

“We can, as you’ve heard by now, flatten the curve. But only if everyone takes sustained action, nothing less will do. We all need to take steps to reduce close human contact. That’s how the virus is spread. Not just in public gatherings or in public places but also in our own homes, places of leisure and places of work.

“Large public gatherings are cancelled, all pubs and bars are shut and we’ve asked people  to curtail or cancel social gatherings like parties, weddings and other celebrations.

“I know these choices won’t be easy but they are necessary. And more will be required in the coming weeks to reduce the spread of the virus. At all times, we’ll be guided and take the expert advice from our public heath emergency team, led by the chief medical officer.

“We’ll always put your life and your health ahead of any other concern. All resources that we have, financial and human, are being deployed to serve this great national effort. We’re watching what’s happening around the world and we will learn from the experience of other countries affected by Covid-19 before we were.

“What works, and what doesn’t. We know the best strategies focus on testing and contact tracing and social distancing so that’s our strategy. We will keep our essential services, supply chains and utilities operating.

“Many of you want to know when this will be over. The truth is: we just don’t know yet. This emergency is likely to go on well beyond March 29th. It could go on for months into the summer so we need to be sensible in the approaches we take.

“We will deploy our full resources to ensure that essential shops, workplaces and public transport can continue to operate. People will still need to buy goods and avail of personal services in the weeks and months ahead. However to do so, we need your co-operation and that of business and industry to make social distancing workable.

“This may mean changing how you do your business. But we will work with you to find safe and creative ways to do exactly this. It may mean adjusted opening hours, staggering breaks. Phone calls and video conferences, rather than meetings and, if possible, working from home.

“It will mean avoid unnecessary journeys, shopping online from local businesses and getting things delivered, rather than physically going to the premises.

“In short we’re asking people to come together as a nation, by staying apart from each other.

“The most basic messages of washing your hands properly and practicing good hygiene around sneezing and coughing are still the most important. And if you have a new cough that isn’t going away, or a high temperature or both, stay at home, phone your doctor and a test will be arranged for you within a few days.

“At a certain point we will advise the elderly and people who have a long-term illness to stay at home for several weeks. We’re putting in place the systems to ensure that if you are one of them, you will have food, supplies and are checked on. We call it cocooning and it will save many lives, particularly the lives of the most vulnerable, the most precious in our society.

“I know it’s going to be very difficult to stay apart from our loved ones. Most grandparents just want to give their grandkids a hug and a kiss around about now. But, as hard as it is, we need to keep our physical distance to stop the virus.

“Technology can help too. Check in with your loved-ones on Skype of FaceTime and promise them that you’ll see them again soon.

“We’ve already seen our fantastic community spirit spring into action. Phone your neighbours, see if they need help and make sure that those who are living alone are not left alone.

“To all the young people watching, I know you’re probably a bit bored and fed up right now. You want to see your friends, you might even be wishing you’re back at school tomorrow. But you’re going to have to wait a while longer for that.

“And I hope you remember that this time is tough on your parents as well. So I’m asking you to ask your parents, at least once a day, what you can do to help them. Keep up your schoolwork and call your grandparents.

“Like you, my family have spoken about little else in recent days. My partner, two sisters and both their husbands are working in the health service here in Ireland and in the UK. They’re all apprehensive, they’ve heard the stories from China and Italy of hospitals being overwhelmed and medical staff getting sick.

“I’m so proud of them all. Not all superheroes wear capes. Some wear scrubs and gowns.

“And all of our healthcare workers need us to do the right thing in the weeks ahead. Our community services and hospitals are being tooled up. Essential equipment is on the way. Retired staff are returning to service, people are training for changed roles.

“This is the calm before the storm. Before the surge. And when it comes, and it will come, never will so many ask so much of so few. We’ll do all that we can to support them.

“I’m also grateful to the many people who have joined this great national effort. Not just our healthcare staff but also our army cadets, our librarians, our civil servants who are now learning to do contact tracing. The early education and childcare workers offering to look after children for our frontline staff, so they can go to work.

“The teachers and lecturers finding new and innovative ways to teach students online and putting together contingency plans for the Leaving Cert and college exams.

“The people who are stocking our shelves everyday. And those who are serving customers. Our hauliers who leave their families on a Sunday evening and travel across the continent to ensure we have the products, medicines and equipment that we need.

“All those who keep our supply chain moving, working in transport, we thank them. It’s a frontline service too. Our journalists and broadcasters who are helping us to inform and educate the public are all deserving of our respect and thanks.

“Coronavirus is already having a deep impact on jobs and economic activity and will continue to do so. Some people watching will have seen their jobs lost, businesses closed or working hours reduced and more will be worried that it might happen to them too, especially as we don’t know when the emergency will end.

“I know this is causing huge stress and anxiety to you and your families on top of the fear of the virus. While we don’t have all the answers now. We are doing and will do all we can to help you through the time ahead.

“You’ll receive income support as quickly and efficiently as possible and when we’re through the worst, we’ll get people back to work and get businesses open again.

“Everyone in our society must show solidarity at this time of national sacrifice. For those who’ve lost their jobs and had incomes reduced, there will help and understanding from those who can give it, particularly the banks, government bodies and utilities.

“We went into this crisis with a strong economy and the public finances in good order. We have the capacity and credit rating to borrow billions if we need to. And I’m confident that our economy will bounce back. But the damage will be significant and lasting. The bill will be enormous and may take years to pay it.

“The Government’s already signed off a three billion euro package, for health, social welfare and business and will take further action when it’s needed.

“Tonight I know many of you are feeling scared and overwhelmed. That’s a normal reaction. But we will get through this and we will prevail.

“We need to halt the spread of the virus but we also need to halt the spread of fear. So please rely only on your information from trusted sources. From Government, the HSE,  the World Health Organisation and from the national media.

“Please don’t forward or share messages that are from other unreliable sources. So much harm has already been caused by those messages and we must insulate our communities and the most vulnerable from the contagion of fear. Fear is a virus in itself.

“Please take regular breaks from watching the news and media and consuming social media. Constantly scrolling on your phone or obsessively following the latest developments isn’t good for anyone.

“Look after your mental health and well-being, as well as your physical health. Tonight, on our national holiday, I want to send a message around the world. We are in this together. To the people of China, Spain and Italy, who’ve suffered untold heartbreak and loss, we are with you.

“To everyone who’s lost a loved one to this virus, we are with you. To all those living in the shadow of what is to come, we are with you.

“Viruses pay no attention to borders, race, nationality or gender. They the shared enemy of all humanity. And so will be a shared enterprise of all humanity that finds a treatment and a vaccine that protects us.

“Tonight I send a message of friendship and of hope from Ireland to everyone around the world. Lá fhéile Pádraig shona daoibh, oíche mhaith.”

Watch back in full here

Covid-19 emergency to continue beyond March – Varadkar (RTÉ)

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93 thoughts on ““This Is The Calm Before The Storm”

    1. GiggidyGoo

      Sorry, no respect for him. He dawdled. He didn’t learn from Italy, and now here he comes riding on his white horse to save the day?. By his inaction at the start, he made sure that this virus took a foothold here quickly.

        1. GiggidyGoo

          Already in a group doing that. How about you?
          I see you don’t disagree with me regarding his inaction.

          1. A Person

            What about shinners inaction. Not a word from them. Ran to the hills. When will they be back? When there no decisions to be made?

      1. MaryLou's ArmaLite

        Ahhh he/we did learn from Italy, we took action once community transmission was evident. Outside of a few dopes in pubs/Cheltenham people have been quickly adjusting and realising there is more to go.

        The call outs to grandparents and kids was very appropriate.

        Overall I think it was a good speech, it hit the right tone, addressed the appropriate people and was very honest in that we don’t yet have all the answers.

      2. Huh?

        No one has acted faster. No one. And we were criticised for going too far to begin with. This is such a fast changing environment with people trying to make evidence-based decisions with insufficient evidence. Credit where credit is due.

  1. Steph Pinker

    Leo says: ‘Tonight at 9 I’ll speak to you on @RTE and @VirginMedia_One. This is a Patrick’s Day like no other. We cannot stop the virus but we can push it back. We will always put your life and your health first. In future let them say: when things were at their worst, we were at our best’.

    Read it and weep.

    … and don’t forget to get up early in the morning!

  2. Nigel

    Said all the right things, in fairness. Hit the right tone. I apreciated the shout-outs to Italy and China.

      1. GiggidyGoo

        Let’s hope that the hauliers’ drivers are plentiful enough to keep the freight moving. One ferry has now stopped taking the drivers and their tractor units – trailers only now. If the virus ends up putting ships crews out, then there’s a problem. The shout-out for hauliers of course is to attract Verona. You can see through Varadkar easily.
        There are 150+ trailer loads of toilet roll to move from one supplier in the UK for Aldi and LIDL in the next week, and there’s a difficulty finding the equipment to do so. And if they do so, thats taking those trailers away from, say, food manufacturers amongst other things.

        1. millie vanilly strikes again

          Disagree. From someone with a lifetime’s experience in the logistics and transport industry, I’ve been given to understand things are set up for a crisis, mostly due to the worst case scenario planning for a hard Brexit.

          Of course, these things are subject to change because COVID-19 is an unknown quantity still. But as far as I know, we won’t be suffering from major food shortages just yet.

          1. Notmytaoiseach

            Well done to the person who wrote the speech, suit leo that style talk but say nothing!

          2. GiggidyGoo

            Same writer as Kenny had. Borrowing phrases from others – nothing going on in their own head.
            Probably Prone. Sounds like it.

    1. Clampers Outside

      Someone with an eye and ear for clear, no bull, communication. Now is it not the time for grandiose and eloquence, but tone and straight forward simplicity of the message. And on that, the message delivered.

  3. class wario

    Couldn’t fault that really. Overall, I think our response has been good if a bit slow to respond initially. Reassuring to hear that we will focus on testing and tracing also.

    I have to say, in spite of a few dopes packing into pubs, I have been heartened a lot by the togetherness and resourcefulness of the people and families cooped up during this time. We will get through it.

  4. Matt Pilates

    It was a fine speech, well delivered; nuanced by empathy and personal references; shoutouts to everyone in the front-line and supplychain; liked the address to kids in particular.

  5. EdnaThinkTank

    “But the bill will be enormous and it will take years to pay it.” And this time around the ordinary people ain’t paying it. No way.

  6. EdnaThinkTank

    “The HSE may run out of testing equipment for coronavirus for the coming days following a huge increase in the number of people worried they have the disease, officials have said.”


    1. Cian

      Who knows? Perhaps there is a worldwide demand for these kits? Maybe other countries are having a spot of bother too?

      1. GiggidyGoo

        They’re made by Randox in Northern Ireland. 30,000 meant to be coming in a few days.

        1. Cian

          30,000? And you were wondering last week why we didn’t test the 275,000 people that arrive into Dublin airport each week.

          1. GiggidyGoo

            Randox are just one supplier. Did the 275,000 arrive from Italy? Still being the gobpoo I see Cian. The boyo who reckoned it was ok to allow the first one tested to mix in a community hall while waiting for the result of the test.

          2. Clampers Outside

            If we tested all you demanded we’d have run out lo g ago a d would be left waiting for those displaying symptoms… Imagine the state of the place if we did what you demanded, in fairness…


          3. ReproBertie

            “it was ok to allow the first one tested to mix in a community hall while waiting for the result of the test.”

            Can you back this up? I’ve been asking you to do so since you first made the claim and you haven’t yet.

          4. GiggidyGoo

            I’ve provided that to you last week. Now, like a good boy, look back and find the answer and don’t be another gobpoo.

          5. ReproBertie

            How about you be sound and provide it again rather than making me trawl through a week’s worth of posts?

          6. ReproBertie

            So you won’t even do the sound think. Colour me shocked.

            It couldn’t possibly be that you have no proof could it?

          7. GiggidyGoo

            Look back. It’s not than long ago. You actually ran away from the conversation at the time.

    2. MaryLou's ArmaLite

      Because one month ago the world wanted a few thousand Covid19 kits, now it wants billions and these things take time to make.

      1. GiggidyGoo

        How many manufacturers are there? How many units are made per minute? How many billion are needed?

        1. MaryLou's ArmaLite

          I don’t know, I don’t know how long it takes to make a kit, a hour, a day, a week?

          Some people want the country in lockdown and borders shut, and they want bog roll an abundance of testing kits.

        2. Charlie

          Giggidy. You need a break from social media. You’re cracking and we’re only 5 minutes into this craic. Deep breaths.

        3. Cian

          I don’t know. But in this capitalist world we live in there tends to be a balance between supply and demand. There are only enough manufacturers with capacity to supply the normal demand. When demand peaks (like now) the supply takes time to ramp up.
          Yes, I’m sure the existing factories are working flat out, and others are being retrofitted. But all that takes time.

    3. Clampers Outside

      In fairness, we would have ran out a well before if we tested everyone coming into the country as many demanded.

      And jebus… Nobody ‘let’ this happen.

  7. jamesjoist

    because we’re “all” in it together I expect there will be a large, one off, wealth tax to help off set the huge cost to the economy. But I won’t hold my breath

  8. JamesJoist

    Just thinking, there’s been a surge in new cases since the horsey crowd came back from Cheltenham, or maybe I’m being paranoid and bitter and it’s the two glasses of wine talking

      1. Rob_G

        I think that might be a bit of an over-simplification; ‘the East’ is where most of the population lives.

      2. ReproBertie

        “That and the Italian rugby supporters. Why the surge in the ‘East’ has happened.“

        Pure speculation.

    1. millie vanilly strikes again

      It takes 7-14 days for symptoms to appear. I think you may be jumping the gun. I’d say we’ll see the affects of Cheltenham by next week.

  9. Rosette of Sirius

    Look. For the day that was in it, it is what was needed. He was clear and came across as genuine and empathic. How could one not be?

    These sorts of moments are not about party or about political persuasion. It’s about what gets a nation through the day, the week or the month.

    All one has to do to is to look across the Irish Sea and observe how generations of Tory fiscal philosophy has fallen by the wayside and all including the kitchen sink will be tossed at this problem.

    Same here. Billions to be borrowed. Bank debt and utility bills to be supported and we’ll survive.

    Lord knows how many will die, but die they will. And for what it’s worth, I don’t wish such a demise on anyone – here on BS or anywhere else for that matter.

    I found our Taoiseach somewhat comforting, honest and measured.
    Anything else would have injected more fragility into an already tense and fragile situation.

    So. Sleep week tonight and stay well. As far as I have observed, a member of our BS community (yes, we are one of those!), is poorly and was not observed here today. Please correct me if I’m wrong. I hope our colleague and friend to many is recovering.

    Nighty night.

  10. Shayna

    To be fair, it was a good speech. I think he could have skipped the, “We call it cocooning” sign-off. A tad patronizing on it.

    1. V

      Btw when I say speechwriter
      I mean
      Leo needs an Irish speechwriter

      Not some by the word yank hawking notes and remarks all over Washington DC

        1. V

          At least we can identify the source for the historical quote mimicking

          A bitta Oró would have cemented Leo’s leadership here

  11. Kevin Higgins

    More Neville Chamberlain than Churchill (both equally repulsive). Speech given with all the sincerity and depth of one delivered from a cell in the Lubyanka, with a gun pointed at the speaker’s head. And we shake our heads at Johnson & Trump?
    We will pay a heavy price for putting the crown on the head of a fool.

    1. A Person

      What a daft comment. Are you that poet that cannot write poetry? What the eff does the address have to do with Chamberlain, Churchill, Lubyanka, Johnson & Trump

  12. Paulus

    Speech wasn’t bad; Leo’s delivery is never great…too wooden. But content is what really matters here.
    “Cocooning” grates a bit, but it seems everything has to have its own special phrase these days; like “social distancing” which was poorly thought out. “Personal space/distance” would have been more appropriate.

  13. brughahaha

    Speech just made me cringe ,remind me how much i dislike him and scratch my head and wonder if the election to remove him as Taoiseach was all a figment of my imagination.
    Oh and thanks to the butchering of Home Help hours by Leos Government , I already ask my elderly parents every day what I can do for them

  14. f_lawless

    Says Leo “We have the capacity and credit rating to borrow billions.. The bill will be enormous and may take years to pay it.”

    In other words further years of severe austerity for the average Irish citizen.

    According to Yanis Varoufakis, the Eurozone’s finance ministers (aka the Eurogroup) are doing European citizens over yet again.


    ” Loans are useless when the problem is, not illiquidity but, insolvency. It is a pointless gift to lend money to a firm whose customers have disappeared and which know that, when the customers return, it will be next to impossible to repay the new and old debts. What companies need now is either the government to act as a buyer of last resort or a haircut of their liabilities – not new loans…

    Even when the lockdown ends, and business-as-almost-usual returns, Europeans will not earn enough to pay belatedly the deferred taxes plus the new ones. Especially given that many businesses and jobs will have disappeared by then…

    Europe’s finance ministers managed to do even less than what we feared: They failed to use the fiscal compact’s proviso for loosening up fiscal policy across the euro area. They continued with the tragic error of treating a crisis of insolvency as a crisis of liquidity…

    To avert (recession), the Eurogroup should have decided to mimic Hong Kong and have the European Central Bank mint an emergency fund from which every European household is given between €1000 and €2000.”

    1. MaryLou's ArmaLite

      Varoufakis is a hard line Marxist who couldn’t handle the heat when in government in Greece. Like all hard lefty types they run away when they don’t get their way.

    2. Cian

      Thus makes a lot of sense. But until the ECB does something like that we need to have the cash to pay for all the new stuff that is happening now.

    3. :-Joe

      +100%… Haha.. good man… . Oh my word…

      I’m dumbfounded that people can’t see another disaster surveillance (pseudo)capitalist attempt to hijack a crisis and bring us back to anothe round of quantative easing a.k.a the biggest heist in history( The greatest wealth transfer from public funds to private financcial interests in history)

      Here we go again folks, more corrupt IMF deals, economic hit-men and austerity for the poor and unfortunate… Meanwhile it’s socialism on steroids for the tiny minority of the billionaire corporate elites who already stole most of the money the last time round.

      Yet another round of QE (Printing fake money(debt) by the corrupt and technically illegal fed) It’s already started in ‘murica today…. just to hand it all over to fuel wall street and the banking class.

      I was wondering what the f*** was going on in the comments on this thread, I was starting to feel like I had accidentally stepped into and interrupted a cult orgy of sacharin sentimentality and fake hero-worship… I also thought most people must be having a laugh and being weirdly sarcastic?…

      To be fair Giggidy and Notmytaoiseach were not buying any of it either…. hat tip to you lads…

      All the group think, herd mentality and adoration building for an undemocratically elected, useless, incompetant, failed neo-liberal economic puppet… no mandate and literally stealing from you for years and you can’t wait to lick his bootstraps if you can get your heads out of his ass first?..

      WTF is going on with you people?… Memory loss, alzheimer’s syndrome, drug abuse?… Cabin fever? Wait no, Stockholm Syndrome? Yes, that’s it!… At least it has to be something similar.to it?..

      Some kind of delusional anomoly. in the human psyche or is this why 60%-ish of people at the ballot keep voting against their own self interests and at the expense of everyone else around them …

      Anyway, I knew there had to be at least one sane person still functioning in here somewhere….

      Absolutely f_lawless… good man.

      -lol, I wish I’d read this before… It’s like an episode of the twilight zone, where a whole comments section becomes more and more brainwashed by each other’s agreeable nature…

      Wow.. what a crazy example of delusional group thinking by quite a few ordinarily sane people…

      I think just delete it and bury the evidence in the Wicklow mountains…

      Let’s never talk about it again… but we’ll all know it once existed… haha.? fk…

      Astonishing stuff…. thanks for the strange experience of it at least.


  15. some old queen

    There is a lot of comments here on Leo’s speech style and substance- things which in one month from now will seem so irrelevant.

    Follow the advice given about washing, isolation etc because it is now part of our social contract.

    Focus on what is really important- like keeping yourself and you family safe and remember- like all storms, this too will pass.

  16. Madam x

    Varoufakas is right. Giving cash to people to spend is a much better way of propping up an economy, and cutting tax liability Borrowing/ giving delays to business helps cash flow short term but in the end it has to be paid back when their cash flow will be just as difficult That will take years to get back on track not months

  17. Tara gallagher

    I would like to know from the government about renters.
    What will happen if they can’t pay rent …who is going to help them out.
    Are we to be thrown to the dog’s

  18. White Dove

    ‘The storm” has particular meaning for Trump supporters in the US.

    They were very excited about Leo using this term in a speech given on St Patrick’s day. In fact he was more popular on US conservative twitter that night than he has ever been here.

    I wonder if Leo/his speechwriter just picked up this phrase by accident on his travels to Washington or if he or his speechwriter were given ‘guidance’ from the White House on what to say?

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