Aontú leader Peadar Tóibín TD has accused the former Minister for Health, Simon Harris, of breaking his promise to pay student nurses. Deputy Tóibín was speaking during a Dáil motion on the topic. He said:

“In March this year Simon Harris announced that student nurses and midwives would be paid for their work on the frontlines. We now know this never happened. Lets call a spade a spade – this announcement was a PR stunt. What happened in reality is that student nurses and midwives were offered employment by the HSE. If they took that employment then they would no longer be considered student nurses and thus none of the hours worked could be counted towards their placement hours. As a result student nurses and midwives have been working for free, unpaid on the frontlines in appalling conditions. The INMO have said that student nurses are being exploited at their places of work”.

Deputy Tóibín continued: “Minister Harris attempted to pull the wool over the eyes of student nurses and midwives as part of a PR stunt. This is an utter disgrace, it is tight fisted, it is cheap, but is totally in line with the spin operations which the Minister consistently undertook in the previous government. The Minister is no friend of nurses, and no friend of students either. Remember this is the same minister who warned and threatened financial consequences for nurses when they were on strike. Facebook and Twitter should link a fact-check under promises made by Minister Harris in Future”.

“Nurses in Ireland have to pay a one hundred euro retention fee this month, while nurses working for the NHS are being given a five hundred pound bonus. The way we treat our nurses and our student nurses/ midwives in this country is despicable. They have been working incredibly hard during these very challenging circumstances”, concluded Deputy Tóibín.