Wednesday, 19 December 2018
Ceisteanna ó Cheannairí - Leaders' Questions
I want to correct the record. When Fine Gael took office, it was on the promise of burning bondholders, but it capitulated when the European Central Bank, ECB, made a threat that a financial bomb would go off in Dublin. The Government then pulled back from its position. Not only did Fine Gael impose austerity but it also escalated it. In recent years many people have suffered from it but particularly public sector workers. The Taoiseach has just given us the figure of €300 million as being the cost. Ironically, it almost mirrors the amount money the junior bondholders are about to be paid. The figure is €367 million versus €300 million and we will get back €600 million. We could settle with the nurses, but making a bland statement that physiotherapists, occupational therapists and speech and language therapists would not accept it is just bizarre. The Taoiseach is not the negotiator and cannot make that statement in a bland way. The Government needs to sort out the problem, not just because it is a problem in the lives of the nurses and their families but also because it is a problem for every citizen who has to use the health service, given that we cannot recruit and retain nurses. Children also cannot avail of the psychiatric service because, as the PNA will tell the Taoiseach, it is haemorrhaging psychiatric nurses who are leaving the State because they can do better elsewhere.
This has to be sorted, and sooner or later the Taoiseach will have to face up to it. He should not tell me he will sort it after he forces nurses out onto the streets in the month of January when the health service is creaking at its worst in terms of the crisis.