Aontú representative for Mayo, Paul Lawless, has expressed his disappointment over the fact that student nurses are still not getting paid for their work on the frontlines despite Minister Harris saying they would be.

Mr Lawless said: “Back in March then Minister for Health Simon Harris announced that student nurses would be paid for their work in fighting the virus on the frontlines. His announcement was largely welcomed and celebrated by students at the time. But all these months later student nurses still haven’t been paid. Simon Harris is now the Minister for Higher Education so the issue is still in his remit – but it wasn’t mentioned in the budget at all”.

Mr Lawless explained what happened: “What happened after the Minister’s comments in March was that the HSE offered employment to the students. Any student who took that employment and is now back in college is discovering that none of the hours they worked have been counted towards their placement and that they now have to work for free for a number of months to make up the hours. For students who didn’t take up that offer have been working for free on the frontlines for the past number of months in very stressful circumstances, without subsidised meals or without any pay”.

“We in Aontú did raise this issue in our pre-budget submission, but nothing has been done. It is frustrating to see Simon Harris riding on a wave of popularity because of his promise to pay student nurses when the reality is that they were never paid. These students have been working under very intense pressures and the work they are doing is saving lives, they really deserve to be paid, and it is totally unacceptable that currently they aren’t getting a penny”, concluded Mr Lawless.