Hundreds of nurses across Donegal have taken to the picket lines across the county in a bid for better pay and conditions.
Pickets have been placed on the major medical centres including Letterkenny University Hospital, Scally Primary Care Centre in Letterkenny as well as Dungloe, Buncrana and Ballyshannon.
The vast majority of the public are supporting the nurses’ strike action with many bringing sandwiches, soup and other refreshments to the picket lines.
Almost 40,000 nurses and midwives in Donegal and right across the country have started their 24-hour strike.
Members of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) are staging the first in a series of six 24-hour work stoppages on Wednesday as part of a campaign to secure pay parity with other graduate-entry healthcare professional staff such as physiotherapists.
The HSE says it will not be a “normal day” for the service with 25,000 appointments cancelled.
The Government insists that the nurses claim for parity is unaffordable and “completely undermining” its budgetary position before Brexit.
Maura Hickey, INMO Industrial Relations Officer in the North-West said the action will continue for the “long-haul” if the Government don’t come to the table with “meaningful talks”.
“There are two picket lines today (Tuesday) in Letterkenny, one at the Emergency Department entrance and one at the main entrance and they will be there from 8am to 4pm.
“This is the first day of action, there will be two further days next week, Tuesday and Thursday if there are no meaningful talks.
With plummeting temperatures disrupting the public right across Donegal on Tuesday, Hickey said the failure from HSE management to negotiate was to blame for the further interruption.
“We are out on strike because management didn’t negotiate, the HSE and Department of Public Expenditure and Reform didn’t come with any meaningful proposals.
“We (INMO) remain available to enter into meaningful negotiations and that means that right across the country today that nurses and midwives are out on strike and are picketing,” Hickey said.
“They are delivering a level of service in the wards where they are keeping patients safe, but this is only day one of the campaign.
Despite the gridlock, Hickey was adamant that staff in Donegal remain firm in their stance towards the striking action and insisted that the workers won’t be deterred easily.
“The nurses and midwives are of strong resolve and they are there for the long-haul if that is what it takes to get their claim addressed.
“We would like to thank the people of Donegal, who are very supportive of the action,” she added.
“We are asking them to continue to stand strong with us and are nurses and midwives will also stand strong.”Tags: