Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin; Taoiseach Leo Varadkar
During Leaders’ Questions which were answered by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar…
Fianna Fáil Micheál Martin raised the nurses’ strike and claimed there was “absence of substantive and meaningful engagement from the Government’s side” in terms of resolving the issues.
It followed the issuing of a press release by the Government last night in which Minister for Health Simon Harris and Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe said they were willing to engage in talks “on the range of workplace-related issues other than pay to try to resolve the dispute”.
Mr Martin added:
“I put it to you Taoiseach that last night’s initiative, at the 11th hour, of the proposals that emanated from Minister [Paschal] Donohoe and Minister [Simon] Harris have only served to compound the problem, make it worse and escalate it.
“Because it concerns staff shortages, undergrad education, future nursing needs and so on. But it was sent out via press release, without any engagement with the INMO or the other unions.
“The INMO has said and director described it as ‘the most cynical move I’ve seen in a long time’ and the unions have rejected it as Government spin. And that it was massively disrespectful to the nurses and to patients.
“Now, Taoiseach, I would put it to you that we cannot solve, you cannot solve industrial relation disputes by such cynical PR manoeuvres. That kind of ‘optics are more important that substance’ approach won’t cut it when it comes to an industrial dispute of this gravity and scale.
“What is required Taoiseach are meaningful steps to be taken. Substance must replace spin in relation to the resolution of this dispute.”
Mr Martin went on to suggest that well-known mediator Kieran Mulvey should be engaged to help with resolving the matters.
During his response, Mr Varadkar said:
“I appreciate that the nursing union felt that the offer to engage in further talks at the WRC was discourteous as they heard it through a press release rather than through a letter or direct contact.
“And we’ll make sure that doesn’t recur.
“At the same time though, we shouldn’t forget that tens of thousands of people found out through the media that their respite was being cancelled this week too. That their day care was being cancelled too. So I think we need to bear that in mind as well.”
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