Tens of thousands march to support striking nurses and midwives

(photo from INMO)

Tens of thousands marched through Dublin today in support of striking nurses and midwives as part of a national rally organised by the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO).

The national rally began at 12:30 at the Garden of Remembrance, with the tail of the large crowd arriving at Merrion Square two hours later. The INMO said the aim of the rally was to show the widespread public support for the striking nurses and to call on the government to make serious proposals to resolve the dispute.

The rally was organised in conjunction with the three days of 24 hour strikes over the last fortnight, which have received overwhelmingly positive public support. A poll of 1,000 adults by the Claire Byrne Show/Amárach research found that 74% of the public support the strike.

The INMO is demanding pay restoration for nurses and midwives in order to address the recruitment and retention crisis in the health service. Poor pay and working conditions mean Ireland is losing thousands of nurses to emigration, with many leaving in search of the better pay and conditions available to nurses in Australia, the UK and Canada. The INMO said that the initial section of today’s march was led by young nurses and midwives with suitcases, asking the government to “give them a reason to stay”.

Speaking at the rally, INMO General Secretary Phil Ni Sheaghdha said, “Equal pay for nurses with other graduates is something we have strived for, is something that we seek, and it’s something that we intend to get, because without it, nursing and midwifery will still be considered a little bit of a vocation and a little bit of ‘girls going to work’ and girls just not having the right to stand up for themselves.”

Labour Court talks have failed to make any progress yet meaning over 40,000 nurses from the INMO are likely to participate in a three day strike on the 12th, 13th and 14th of February.