Thursday, 7 February 2019
Nurses and Midwives Industrial Action: Statements
I very warmly welcome the nurses and midwives who are in the Visitors Gallery and thank them for taking the time to be here, representing every other nurse and midwife in our country.
It is so important that this issue gets sorted now. The Government is mismanaging it. If we look at what it is paying agency nurses and agency staff, it does not make sense. There is total disregard when it comes to politics. How inexperienced and silly a thing could the Government have done last week to send out a press release from both senior Ministers, the Minister for Health and the Minister for Finance, telling nurses they will sit down with them all right, but one of the conditions is that what they are talking about - pay - will not be on the table at all, that they will discuss other work conditions and everything else, but they will not discuss what the nurses want to discuss? That is what they are protesting about - getting a thing called fair play.
I can only talk with sure knowledge of County Kerry. I walked with the nurses from accident and emergency the last time they protested, when they explained in great detail to me the worry they have about their safety because of lack of numbers. They are really under pressure. I have been inside accident and emergency units in Limerick, Kerry and Cork during the middle of the night. I have seen at weekends how busy and how pressurised it can be. These are the people we rely on in emergency situations, whether dealing with older people, children or middle aged people. They are the people who, when their eyes are closing are damn glad to see a nurse looking down at them when their eyes open again. All I am saying is, for God's sake, wake up to this problem. It is not going to go away. Every Member here has a uniformity of purpose, and that is to demand this from the Ministers for Health and Finance.
It is true what my brother said about a bloody rainy day fund. It is pouring down on top of the Government now. Take the money out, if they have it for a rainy day fund, and give it to the nurses.