‘Today marks another significant, and welcome, milestone for Ireland as we continue to emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic.

 It is an important day for businesses welcoming staff back to the workplace, and for indoor sports, arts, and cultural classes.

 Today is an important day for the economy, and society as a whole.

 This progress has been made possible by the continued and consistent hard work of the Irish people, and the exceptional progress of a national vaccination programme that has fully vaccinated over 90% of the adult population.

 I know how challenging the necessary public health restrictions have been for young and old, who have had much of their working, artistic, cultural and sporting lives on hold for so long.

 We have come through a lot together, getting our children back to the classroom, the return of hospitality and retail, and re-opening society in a safe and phased way.

 And the strategy has worked.

 If we continue this progress, we can look forward to the further removal of public health restrictions, to be replaced by guidance and advice.

 Of course, we cannot let our guard down, and we all have a part to play in protecting our hospitals and most vulnerable.

 In the coming weeks, the Government will announce how we intend to mark the sacrifice and efforts of frontline workers in the fight against Covid-19.

 We will ask too how we can best honour and commemorate all those who lost their lives in this terrible and unprecedented pandemic.