Sinn Féin calls on Govt to 'show up' for student nurses

Student nurses are angry that Government is claiming that they are being exploited by senior colleagues, the leader of Sinn Féin has claimed.

Speaking during Leaders’ Questions in the Dáil, Mary Lou McDonald told Taoiseach that student nurses say “you are the exploiter”.

Ms McDonald said other nurses are not to blame and she urged him to “drop that nonsense.” 

She also said that student nurses show up every day for us, and it is time for the Government to show up for them,

The Taoiseach said at no stage did he ever say that other nurses exploit students.

He accused Ms McDonald of distorting what he had said last week.

Mr Martin also claimed that Fianna Fáil transformed nursing education and this involved the largest investment ever in the area.

He said if a student nurse is asked to work on a roster then she should be paid.

However, he added that it was important not to move nursing education back to an apprenticeship model.

There were also bitter exchanges in the Dáil over the plight of Debenhams workers. 

Solidarity TD Mick Barry claimed that the reason a negotiated solution had yet to materialise, in which workers would be paid more than statutory redundancy, was “first and foremost” down to delay by the Government. 

He said the mainly female workforce, who were sacked by email, had been fighting for “eight long months” through a pandemic for a just settlement before Christmas. 

Mr Barry queried whether the Government was going to “abandon” Debenhams workers, like the student nurses, or if the delay in reaching a deal could be because the Government was “so cynical” that it feared facing questions on the “floor of Dáil Éireann” which rises on Thursday for Christmas. 

In reply, the Taoiseach described Mr Barry as an “extraordinary propagandist” who had led the Debenhams workers “up the hill” with “a tactical approach” which had “compounded the problem.” 

He said Mr Barry’s contribution in the Dáil was an “extraordinary articulation of distortion.” 

The Taoiseach contended that the Government “has not been agency for blocking anything” and stated that it “stands ready to do more, within the law, to support the workers.” 

However, he observed “there are limitations [to what the Government can do] because of how long it’s going on” and there are legal aspects which pose “very serious challenges.”

Mr Barry said the Taoiseach’s criticism of his role was akin to “water off a duck’s back”, adding: “I’m not interested in what you think.” It was the workers opinion that counted, he said. 

Mr Martin argued: “It suits you to paint a picture that it’s all the government’s fault.”

He said the employers treatment of the workers was “shoddy” and “very very wrong” but argued the Government had acted “speedily”.

Ryan calling for Green support for CETA deal

Mr Martin has defended the EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement in the Dáil. 

He said that small and medium businesses were “very happy” with the pact. 

He asked how is the Irish economy to grow if “we don’t have export opportunities?” 

The Taoiseach said he had heard very few “pro-trade” contributions in the Dáil and said corporations employed thousands in Ireland. 

Ms McDonald has called for a full risk assessment of the deal before it is debated in the Dáil. 

Earlier the Minister for Transport, Eamon Ryan, has said he will be calling for members of his party to support the EU-Canada trade deal when it is debated in the Dáil in January.

Mr Ryan said that while he previously had concerns that the deal put multinational interests ahead of environmental concerns, some of the concerns he had around the trade resolution process “are starting to be addressed”.

These include decisions that trade deals must adhere to the Paris Climate Agreement and a decision in the European Court of Justice that says environmental rights cannot be sacrificed under this deal.

He said that he will support the deal and will be calling for ratification of the deal among TDs.

Additional reporting Paul Cunningham, David Murphy

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