Aontú leader Peadar Tóibín TD today raised student nurses pay and SUSI issues in the Dáil. He has expressed his disappointment that Minister Harris left the chamber early and did not address the questions.

Deputy Tóibín said:

“Back in March when Simon Harris was Minister for Health he announced that student nurses would be paid for their work on the frontlines during the pandemic. But the student nurses and midwives have not been paid, they’re being exploited, working long and difficult days for free. Today I wanted to ask the Minister when he will pay them, but he left the chamber before my contribution”.

Deputy Tóibín continued: “Students these days seem to be getting a bad name, with one politician in the Seanad campaigning to call in the army to tackle students in the first week of the college year. Today in the Dáil I listed some of the fantastic students who’ve been in touch with me, students who are fighting for equality, students who have organised media and political lobbying campaigns. I’m thinking of students like Sonia, who has been on the phone to politicians and the media while studying and working on the frontline at the same time. A trooper of a campaigner. Another young man – Cian Gallagher – also a brilliant driven student of politics in UCD who has been heading up a campaign on the SUSI issue. Following on from Cian’s campaign I sought to ask the Minister about the instances where SUSI grant a student funding before challenging that or threatening to take it back at a later date. The Minister unfortunately left the chamber early and did not address that question”.

“Another student was in touch with me who was recently orphaned. This student had dropped out of college to care for his guardian during her illness. The college in question failed to inform SUSI of this, and SUSI continued to pay the college for his education. Upon applying this year SUSI told this grief stricken young man that he owed them thousands of euro. He hadn’t seen a cent of this money, it had gone directly to the university. Surely SUSI should have asked the university to return the money, not the blameless student? At a time of recession we need to be working to keep students in education and in Ireland. Students are struggling like never before, they’re calling TDs offices in tears. The system is too conservative, too strict, too harsh. We need a compassion approach and student-friendly system at this difficult time”, concluded Deputy Tóibín