Irish President Michael D. Higgins said that essential workers are underpaid and undervalued in Ireland and that we must pay them more and provide better job security and work conditions in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Higgins was speaking to Ryan Tubridy in the gardens of Áras an Uachtaráin as part of a special pre-recorded segment on Friday's Late Late Show and said that the current health crisis was an opportunity to deal with issues such as health, housing, and childcare.
The Irish President suggested that people have underrated the contribution of essential workers to their daily lives and said that the country must examine how it pays them for their vital services.
"These are the essential workers, society couldn't function without them. We pay tribute to them and thank them but we wouldn't just want to leave it that," he said.
"We have to ask ourselves a question - have we underrated the contribution of this most important part of our lives? We need to follow through and look at how they are remunerated, their security, and the conditions they are asked to work in.
"There's an opportunity to make a deep reflection," he continued. "It isn't about blame or anything, it's about reminding oneself about that which hasn't been given sufficient attention. What is the nature of work? What work could we not do without?
"We should come out of the COVID having completely re-thought out the importance of caring."
Higgins was speaking to Tubridy in front of the Plough and the Stars monument on the Áras an Uachtaráin grounds. The monument celebrates workers and is dedicated to the 1913 Lockout - a major industrial dispute in Dublin City.
Higgins said that he hoped Ireland would emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic with a whole new shape, providing a "better fit" between the economy, environment and society.
"Across the board, there seems to be a great promising moment in which we might say we are going to do health differently, we are going to do housing differently, we're going to do the issue of childcare differently."