From top: Today’s Irish Examiner, Fianna Fail deputy leader Dara Calleary, Tánaiste Simon Coveney in the Dáil this afternoon
In the Dáil, during Leaders’ Questions, which were taken by Tánaiste Simon Coveney.
Fianna Fáil deputy leader Dara Calleary raised the nurses’ strike and asked what the Government has done in recent days to off-set the further strikes which are planned to take place next Tuesday and Thursday and in later weeks.
Mr Coveney repeated much of what the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said during Leaders’ Questions the past two days – namely that the Government “understands the resolve” of the nurses but the Government cannot give pay increases to one section of workers within the public sector pay service agreement without expecting another section to also seek pay increases.
He said the Government wants the State’s industrial relations mechanisms, chiefly the Labour Court, to work with nursing unions to come up with recommendations and he called on nursing unions to “fulfil their obligations” too.
He also noted the “extraordinary disruption” the strike action caused yesterday but thanked the nurses for their “huge cooperation” in providing essential services.
Mr Calleary asked Mr Coveney about an article on the front page of today’s Irish Examiner which claims that the nurses on strike “could see salary rises and pension increases under the existing pay deal frozen and blocked if they don’t call off their all-out strike”.
The article states:
“…Health Minister Simon Harris and a spokesperson for Finance Minster Pashcal Donohoe confirmed officials will “legally consider” imposing penalties in what will be seen as a hardline response to the industrial action.”
Mr Calleary asked Mr Coveney if he could confirm the contents of the article. He also put it to Mr Coveney that he “allowed” the story to be published.
Mr Coveney said the Government “doesn’t give permission to any paper” to print what they wish and that decision is taken by newspapers and their editors.
Mr Coveney confirmed the Government is “taking legal advice…consistent with the pay agreement that everybody signed up to with their eyes open”.
Watch Dáil proceedings live here