The opportunity to celebrate St Patrick’s Day will come again, according to the Taoiseach.
Ahead of the national holiday on Wednesday, Micheál Martin urged the Irish public to mark the occasion in a “Covid safe manner”.
Mr Martin said Ireland was at a “crossroads” in the pandemic, and warned that social gatherings could undermine sacrifices made to date in order to suppress the virus.
“The opportunity to celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day will come again,” the Taoiseach said in a statement.
“Our vaccination programme continues to be rolled out and as supply increases, we will get them to people quickly. But for the moment, we must continue to observe the current restrictions.”
Mr Martin warned of the increased transmissibility of new variants of the virus.
“The variant that is now dominant in the country is much more contagious and therefore much more dangerous,” he said.
“It is very important that people do not congregate or meet up for social gatherings in their homes or anywhere else. To do so would be to undermine all of the sacrifices we have made to date.
“Lá Fhéile Pádraig is the day when the world honours the Irish people. There can be no better way to honour our people in 2021 than to stay focused and avoid another wave of infection with this terrible virus.”
Wednesday will mark the second St Patrick's Day that the country has foregone typical celebrations due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Mr Martin said the day will carry an “added poignancy as we reflect on a year that has been dominated by the Covid-19 pandemic and the loss of more than 6,500 family, friends and neighbours across the island who have died with the virus.”
Earlier on Tuesday, Minister of State Patrick O’Donovan called for the nation to “drown the shamrock” with water rather than alcohol, which he said had led to some “scandalous scenes” during the pandemic in Ireland.
Mr O’Donovan said there was a “massive failure” to control the sale of alcohol before Christmas, leading to a “very dear price”.
Gardaí are also urging people to stay at home on St Patrick’s Day, with more than 2,500 officers set to be on duty across the country at any one time tomorrow.
With a number of protests reported to be taking place in Dublin on Wednesday, gardaí have said a significant policing plan is in place.