Aontú Cllr & Cathaoirelach of Cavan County Council Sarah O’Reilly has condemned the shameful decision and vote of the Irish government against paying student nurses.

Cllr Sarah O’Reilly: “Student Nurses have been used as Cannon Fodder on the frontlines during the fight against Covid-19, and used to plug holes in the healthcare system. Whilst Government TDs have been self-isolating in the Convention Centre at the cost of millions to the taxpayer, student nurses have been used and abused by their own government. Student nurses stepped up to fill roles as Healthcare Assistants – because they couldn’t get anyone else to do the job, so student nurses stood to fill the gap once again. Whilst we have been self-isolating at home, student nurses have been working non-stop, without pay, to keep us safe – often at times, with no PPE, little to no sleep, and with no breaks.”

“Student Nurses are expected to work an excessive amount of hours without pay to graduate from a degree they are already paying for, whilst being expected to be able to financially sustain themselves. As if this was not bad enough, these student nurses have been told they may not work their additional part-time healthcare jobs to financially sustain themselves. This is to preclude cross contamination. However,, the measure discards the fact that these part time jobs are the only way for these student nurses to financially sustain themselves, and work 35+ hours unpaid per week. As one young student nurse said to me ‘It is not feasible, appropriate or acceptable to expect us to work 35hr weeks in the middle of a pandemic for no pay while paying €3000 to attend college.’ This government needs to stop punishing our student nurses and start treating them right.”

“Also in relation to their placement, student nurses are mandated to self-isolate for two weeks and do the same after the placement. Somehow the government expects student nurses to be able to forgo any income for close to three months, and yet be able to travel to-and-from work and cover additional expenses – with no income. Student nurses are asking to be Covid tested to try reduce their time with pay, however there has been no movement on that point from government.”

“These young students love nursing. They are passionate and dedicated to their vocation, and have always put the welfare of the Irish people above that of themselves. The government continues to punish student nurses and burden them with ever more impossible demands before they graduate. If they want to do the right thing they need to pay student nurses now.”