Sinn Féin spokesperson on Housing, Eoin Ó Broin TD, has said the government’s refusal to reverse its decision to end the eviction ban will lead to levels of homelessness never before thought possible.
Deputy Ó Broin was responding after government parties, along with some independent TDs, this evening voted in favour of extending the eviction ban, a decision that will see thousands of people lose the roof from over their heads in the coming weeks and months.
Teachta Ó Broin said:
“In nine days’ time, the emergency ban on no-fault evictions will come to an end, and we will see levels of homelessness we never before thought possible.
“Residential Tenancies Board figures tell us that 3000 families, single people, couples, families with children and pensioners have eviction notices that will fall due in April.
“Every TD present today had a clear choice to make, and shame on Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael, the Green Party - every one of their backbenchers - and those independent TDs who knowingly chose to make ordinary people in their communities homeless.
“Many of these people will be forced to move in with family and friends, others will be forced to emigrate because they will be unable to find alternative accommodation.
“But worse, many men, women and children with eviction notices will seek emergency accommodation, which is already at capacity in many local authorities across the state.
“This means people will be forced to sleep rough, while families with children will be referred to Garda stations for a safe place to sleep.
“That is the shameful legacy of Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, Tánaiste Micheál Martin, the Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien, and all those who supported their decision today.
“I once again call on the government to reverse its decision, to extend the emergency ban on evictions and, crucially, to put in place the emergency measures we have been screaming for them to put in place.”
Sinn Féin MLA Cathy Mason has called on the British Home Office 'Electronic Travel Authorisation' requirements to be scrapped.
The party’s tourism spokesperson said:
“The Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) proposals will create barriers for visitors coming into the north from the south. It should be scrapped.
“With around 70% of tourists in the north arriving in Ireland via Dublin, this legislation directly threatens £250 million that’s spent in the local economy.
“The visa-waiver document for journeys across the border will impact more than a half a million tourists annually and damage all-Ireland tourism.
“This policy is both absurd and offensive and shows a total lack of understanding by the British government about the damaging impact of this legislation to Ireland.
“Tourism and hospitality groups have been very clear in opposition to this legislation. The British Government should heed the call and scrap it.”
Sinn Féin Senator Paul Gavan has welcomed a united call from all members of the Seanad to Rehab Group management to honour a redundancy agreement from two years ago.
The agreement relates to 38 vulnerable workers who were made redundant from Rehab Enterprises in Limerick.
Senator Gavan said:
"In April of 2021, the workers concerned lost their jobs from the Rehab Enterprises plant in Raheen, Limerick.
"Instead of offering four weeks per year of service plus statutory uncapped, as per a longstanding agreement with SIPTU, Rehab offered just two weeks plus statutory capped at one year’s salary.
"The difference in financial terms was very significant, with one worker who had worked for the company for 30 years receiving €21,000 instead of €60,000.
"I proposed a motion on this at the Order Of Business on behalf in the Seanad, and explained how these vulnerable workers have fought valiantly for a just redundancy deal in line with their union agreement.
“Many of these workers include people with visual impairments, learning difficulties and downs syndrome. Some of these workers had given decades of service to Rehab.
"Rehab management have to date ignored a Labour Court Recommendation that carried out an independent financial analysis of Rehab’s books and established that they had over €20 million in cash/cash equivalents, as well as €54 million in assets.
"The same financial analysis also highlighted expenditure of €813,000 in packages paid to senior management in 2018 and 2019.The Labour Court determined that Rehab could well afford to honour this redundancy agreement.
“This week these workers held a lunchtime protest in Limerick. They stood in the pouring rain for an hour outside of Rehab’s office in Parnell Court. These workers have literally been left to twist in the wind by Rehab Management.”
“I have raised the plight of these workers on a number of occasions in the Seanad over the past two years. This motion calls on management to implement the recommendation made by the Labour Court and honour the redundancy agreement that Rehab has with SIPTU.”
“I hope the united voice of the Seanad will bring further pressure to bear on Rehab to finally do the right thing. These workers have already been left waiting far too long for justice.”
Sinn Féin spokesperson on Workers’ Rights, Louise O’Reilly TD, has called on the government to bring forward a roadmap on how it will address areas of nonconformity with the European Social Charter over the next 12 months.
The call comes on the back of a report by the European Committee of Social Rights, which found the government was in breach of the charter in several areas concerning workers’ rights.
Teachta O’Reilly said:
“This is not the first time the European Committee of Social Rights has found an Irish government of being in breach of the workers’ rights.
“For many years now, the Committee has criticised the failure of successive governments to allow members of An Garda Síochána and the Defence Forces the right to fully participate in negotiations regarding their pay and service through being members of national employers’ organisations.
“Today’s report reaffirms those criticisms, but also finds breaches of the European Social Charter in terms of sub-minimum rates of pay for workers aged 18 and 19.
"The Committee found that such rates of pay do not ensure a decent standard of living for young people.
“For many years Sinn Féin has called for sub-minimum rates of pay to be abolished as they are outdated, punitive and exploitative of young workers.
“Further breaches included a failure to protect against dismissal on grounds of trade union membership or involvement in trade union activities and the right to equal pay without discrimination on grounds of sex.
“The Minister for Enterprise, Trade, and Employment should bring forward a roadmap on how he will address the areas of nonconformity with the charter over the next 12 months.
“It is unfair for workers that the State continues to be in breach of the European Social Charter, as it is ordinary workers who suffer; it is also embarrassing for Ireland that successive governments have shown no effort at rectifying these consistent breaches.”
First Minister Designate Michelle O’Neill said today that the public want and deserve the Executive they voted for to support them through the crises in health and cost of living and build a better future for all.
Michelle O’Neill said:
“The negotiation between the EU and the British government has concluded.
"The Brexit Joint Committee meets this Friday to adopt the deal into EU law and we move on to the implementation stage.
“The onus is on the British and Irish governments and all parties – not least the DUP to now get Stormont moving.
“It’s time to move forward. We need to see the Assembly and Executive working now to address the problems in our health service and deliver for business, for workers and families.
“We now have unprecedented economic opportunities to strengthen our economy and create more and better jobs.
“Further blocking the formation of an Executive will only deepen the chaos caused by Brexit and discourage international investors.
“Our people and our economy can't wait. We need stability and we need to see the Executive in place without any further delays.
“Sinn Féin stands ready to form that Executive today and deliver for workers and families.
“The public have been punished for long enough by this futile and shameful DUP blockade.
“The people want and deserve the Executive they voted for to support them through cost of living, to help fix the health service and build a better future for all our people.”
Sinn Féin spokesperson on Climate Action, Darren O’Rourke TD, has said that ESB’s 2022 profits in the context of a crippling cost of living crisis where ordinary workers and families struggle to pay their bills is a reflection of the failure of government policy to ensure the system works for everyone, not just energy companies and the most-well-off.
Teachta O’Rourke said:
“The ESB has today announced profits of €847 million in 2022 in comparison to €679 million in 2021, in large part generated due to their renewables portfolio and higher wholesale prices.
“The increased dividends that will be returned to the state by ESB as a result will be welcome. However, we know the same is not the case for private energy companies who are set to announce similar profits in the days and weeks ahead.
“The greatest insult, however, is the fact that he majority of energy company 2022 profits will remain unaffected by the government’s soon-to-be introduced windfall tax, as the cap on market revenues element of that package applies from December 2022 to June 2023 only.
“When the windfall tax was made possible by EU legislation in October, initial predictions were that it could generate upwards of €1.9 billion.
"With the government's proposal however, the prediction stands at a much smaller figure; somewhere between €280 and €600 million. That is at least €1.3bn lost. €1.3bn that could be used to protect families from the worst effects of the cost-of-living crisis. Instead, it is €1.3bn profit retained by energy companies.
“It is clear that the government’s strategy of opposition, resistance and delay to windfall taxes has served to protect eye-watering profits of energy companies at a time when families are being crucified by sky-high bills.
“What the country needs is a government that is ready to take decisive leadership to face the unprecedented challenges that it is facing.
“What we have instead is a Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and Green Party government that actually blocked windfall taxes and energy market reforms and only elected to move when the EU did so as a whole.
“And even then, when they can hold out no longer, they still seem determined to prioritise big energy companies over ordinary working people and families. It is high-time the government stopped hiding behind its own spin and started answering for its inaction.”
Sinn Féin spokesperson on Fisheries and the Marine, Pádraig Mac Lochlainn TD, has commenced a petition to the Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, calling for super trawlers to be banned from Irish waters.
The petition can be found here: https://my.uplift.ie/petitions/ban-super-trawlers-in-irish-waters
Deputy Mac Lochlainn’s action follows the presence of the two largest super trawlers in the world, the 475 foot Annelies Ilena and the 470 foot Margiris, fishing in Irish waters over the last week.
They were joined by another super trawler, the 383 foot Helen Mary. All three vessels are owned by the huge Dutch corporation, Parlevliet & van der Plas.
Teachta Mac Lochlainn said:
“I have commenced this petition because enough is enough.
“The presence of these monster vessels in Irish waters is a kick in the teeth for a struggling Irish fishing industry that is facing further quota cuts, tie-up schemes and the decommissioning of dozens of vessels.
“These super trawlers are undoubtedly causing untold damage to precious fish stocks off Ireland’s coast. Last year, the Margiris shed 100,000 dead fish into the Bay of Biscay off the coast of France.
“How can anyone within the Irish government or European Commission call this method of fishing sustainable with a straight face?
“It is highly destructive and it must be stopped. These supertrawlers have been banned from fishing in Australian waters and they should be banned from fishing in all European waters now too.”
Sinn Féin MLA Conor Murphy has said businesses need the Executive restored to maximise job creation, investment and trade opportunities created by the Protocol.
The party’s economy spokesperson said:
"Research from Chartered Accountants Ireland has reinforced calls from the majority of businesses for the Executive to be restored immediately so that they can seize trade, investment and job creation opportunities.
“Unique access to both the British and EU markets is a huge opportunity to strengthen our economy and grow local businesses and it cannot be missed.
“Savage Tory cuts and bad decision making coupled with no local ministers taking decisions or setting a Budget has impacted on our businesses and on our economy. Now is the time for political leadership.
“Businesses need all parties working together around the Executive table now and I would urge the DUP again to listen to the voices of local businesses and get back to work to transform our economy.”
Sinn Féin MLA Linda Dillon has said suffering cancer patients and their families need the Executive up and running now.
The party’s health spokesperson said:
“It is unacceptable that the cancer strategy has been sitting on the shelf for a year while cancer patients continue to suffer on unacceptable waiting lists.
“Treatment for cancer can be life-saving and it requires urgent action to ensure vulnerable patients have access to quality care and treatment.
“Ongoing delays in diagnosis is having a severe detrimental impact on treatment.
“Cancer patients can’t wait. More delay in progressing this work is compounding the trauma and worry of cancer patients and their families.
“We need an Executive formed now and parties working together around the table to prioritise investment in the health service, to hire more doctors and nurses and tackle waiting lists now.”
Sinn Féin spokesperson on Social Protection, Claire Kerrane TD, has welcomed the measures announced to support Community Employment (CE) schemes today, but stated that further action is needed to support these schemes.
The Government announced this morning that Adult Dependents will now be able to participate in CE schemes on a pilot basis, and that each scheme will receive a €1,000 grant to support them with rising costs.
However, significant challenges remain in filling CE scheme vacancies across the State, which Sinn Féin has repeatedly highlighted in recent years.
Speaking today, Teachta Kerrane said:
“While the announced measures are welcome, further action is needed to fill rising CE vacancies across the State.
“CE schemes provide invaluable services for communities across the State, and they must be able to continue to provide these services. Without these schemes, in many cases these services simply would not exist.
“It is positive that Adult Dependents will now be eligible to participate in CE schemes, but the reality is that measures are needed to bridge the growing gap in CE scheme vacancies.
"I also welcome that for Ukrainian Refugees, the reduction of time spent on the Live Register from 12 months to 9 months, in order to access the Scheme.
"They can play a role in making a real difference in our communities and can contribute so much. I would question why this reduction was not made for everyone on the Live Register and I think the Minister should look at this.
“There are now over 3,600 CE vacancies in the State and, having engaged with CE schemes, I know many are having difficulties in securing referrals and filling vacancies.
"I remember raising the level of vacancies with the Minister when there were 1,200 vacancies - they have increased enormously and continue to, despite changes to the scheme announced previously.
"The Minister needs to look at referrals from her Department to CE Schemes.
“I have raised with the Minister many times the challenges that CE schemes are having in filling vacancies, and it is clear that the Government must go further to support them in doing so.
“I will continue to push for adequate supports for CE schemes, to ensure they can provide valuable services for their communities and be sustained into the future."
First Minister Designate Michelle O’Neill has said the ongoing bid to host the Euro 2028 football tournament is an ‘exciting opportunity’ and would be a major boost to the local economy.
Speaking after meeting with the IFA and GAA at Windsor Park today with Conor Murphy and Deirdre Hargey, Michelle O’Neill said:
“The bid to host Euro 2028 in Britain and Ireland, with the possibility of several fixtures being held in the north, is an exciting opportunity that cannot be missed.
“If successful, this will attract visitors from all over the world to our towns and cities, providing a major boost to the local economy and creating jobs.
“Today, we met with the IFA and GAA for an update on the bid, and I welcome the continued efforts of both organisations in working in partnership to make this happen.
“The Executive must be restored now and a sports minister in place that is fully focused on seizing this opportunity and ensuring we have stadiums and facilities that are fit for purpose.
“We need to see work started urgently on the new Casement Park to ensure this first-class venue is ready for the potential of hosting Euro 2028 matches.
“All parties must work together around the Executive table to realise the major potential that delivering this tournament will have on our economy and in promoting local sports on the world stage.”
Sinn Féin spokesperson on Justice, Martin Kenny TD, has reacted to the publication of the survey on stalking and harassment in Ireland which was published today.
This survey, the first of its kind in the state, was undertaken by Dr Catherine O’Sullivan and Dr Ciara Staunton from University College Cork, in partnership with the Cork Sexual Violence Centre.
Speaking today, Teachta Kenny said:
“The results of this survey are truly shocking. More than half of those who have suffered at the hands of a stalker have not reported the crimes.
“I have spoken to people who have been victims of this despicable behaviour, and so many feel they will not be believed, they feel they are blamed, and some question whether they are overreacting.
“All of this can lead them to forgo reporting these crimes and, in some cases, it seems that when people do find the strength to report this type of crime they are not always met with understanding.
“I want to encourage those who have suffered at the hands of a stalker – no matter who they are, whether known or unknown to you, whether a friend, ex-partner, colleague, or stranger – to make a report to Gardaí.
“While additional training is needed for some Gardaí, for the most part there are specialised Gardaí who will treat you with care and compassion, and will investigate these incidents thoroughly.
“A vital piece of information in these survey results are the financial and emotional impact this insidious crime has on its victims.
"Over 400 respondents detailed the debt they faced as a result of legal fees, costs related to counselling, medication, or indeed the costs associated with moving house or jobs.
“The judiciary also has a role to play here, however. I welcome the introduction of stalking as a standalone offence in the upcoming Criminal Justice (Misc Provisions) Bill 2022, legislation that is long overdue.
“It is vital that when a victim or victims of this behaviour come forward, and the perpetrator is convicted, that person must face a significant sentence.
“In particular, the bravery of people like Una Ring and Eve McDonnell in opening up about their experiences of stalking and harassment to the public has been key in shaping stalking legislation, and in encouraging others to come forward and report this crime to Gardaí.”
Sinn Féin MLA Philip McGuigan has welcomed news that Wrightbus has secured a new order to deliver 18 zero emission buses for First Bus in Leicester.
The North Antrim MLA said:
"It is great news that Wrightbus has secured a new order to deliver 18 zero emission buses for First Bus in Leicester.
“This contract is also good news for the local area and comes on the back of a recent £25.3 million contract to supply 117 of the battery-electric vehicles.
"As well as helping the environment it will attract investment, grow our local businesses and create more jobs and prosperity."
Sinn Féin spokesperson on Health David Cullinane TD has said that persistent and growing overcrowding in emergency departments is a result of the government’s failure to invest in capacity.
Teachta Cullinane was responding to the publication of the Irish Nurses and Midwives’ Organisation Trolley Watch figures for March 21st, which showed that 665 patients were waiting on a proper bed in hospitals this morning.
The Waterford TD said that the deepening trolley crisis can be solved with political will and a multi-annual capacity expansion plan.
Teachta Cullinane said:
“This morning, the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation recorded 665 patients on trolleys.
“There has only been a single day so far this year where there were less than 400 patients waiting for a bed.
“Extreme levels of overcrowding are being reported every month, every week, and every day at almost every hospital.
“The trolley crisis has spiralled into a constant threat to patient safety, and it is only getting worse. Government cannot hide behind winter surges when the problem is now year-round.
“Government made a noteworthy investment in beds in 2021, but then they stopped. A single year was never going to cut it, and the health service is suffering the consequences of bad planning and a failure to sustain investment in capacity.
“Last week, the INMO announced that nurses working in the Intensive Care Unit at University Hospital Limerick will be voting on industrial action due to unsafe conditions in the hospital.
“Healthcare workers cannot see a way out of this crisis because there is no plan. The Minister has failed to grapple with this challenge.
“But this crisis can be solved with political will and sustained capacity expansion as part of a multi-annual plan.
“Government must urgently publish a multi-annual capacity expansion plan to deliver much needed hospital beds, additional diagnostic capacity, and expanded theatre capacity to equip hospitals to deal with the volume of care coming their way.
“This plan must also address community beds, such as intermediate care beds, and home support to deliver more care outside of hospitals and speed up discharge from hospitals.
“No improvement can be achieved without a paradigm shift in workforce planning. We need a radical increase in the number of healthcare workers we are training, and a serious change in approach to retention in the health service. Too many are leaving early in their career for opportunities abroad or in other sectors.
“Government has failed to act on each of these measures for far too long. The Minister for Health has no credibility until he produces a comprehensive multi-annual plan to expand capacity and tackle this crisis.”
Sinn Féin MLA Conor Murphy has welcomed the announcement that EasyJet will fly from Belfast City Airport to London/Luton and Manchester from this June and will operate up to four times a week.
The party’s economy spokesperson said:
“I welcome that EasyJet will expand their presence at Belfast City Airport by adding flights to London/Luton and Manchester from June this year. The flights will operate up to four times a week, flying on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Sundays.
“This has the potential to create jobs and will be a boost to the local economy, as well as enhancing tourism and business potential in terms of connecting the north of Ireland.
“This is a boost to optimising the airport's role in the regional economy and as a major asset to our local transport and economic infrastructure.”
Speaking this morning, Sinn Féin spokesperson on Enterprise, Trade, Employment, and Workers’ Rights, Louise O’Reilly TD, has said that the treatment of workers at the food retailer Iceland has been unacceptable.
Since the company sold its 27 stores to ‘The Project Point Technologies’ several workers have either not received wages owed and others have not received wages in full.
Teachta O’Reilly said:
“Over the past number of weeks, several Iceland staff have reached out to me regarding their employment situation since the company sold their 27 stores to ‘The Project Point Technologies’.
“These workers have alleged several workers have either not received wages owed and others have not received wages in full.
“Despite the best efforts of the workers they have not been able to receive any clarity regarding the current situation and they have been left in the dark about the company’s future operations.
“This is an unacceptable situation and requires immediate intervention by the Minister for Enterprise, Trade, and Employment.
“These workers are owed wages and they deserve clarification on their futures and the future of the company’s operations in Ireland.
“I have written to the Director of ‘The Project Point Technologies’ seeking this information and I will be raising this matter in the Dáil today."
Sinn Féin spokesperson on Climate Action, Darren O’Rourke TD, has today commented on the fourth and final instalment of the sixth assessment report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and warned of the dangers of a failure to accelerate Ireland’s pathway towards renewables.
The Meath East TD said
“This critical report from the IPCC makes for some stark reading. Drawing together the key findings from six previous reports, it reinforces the urgent and critical efforts that must be made to tackle climate change.
“Despite the rapidly shrinking window to secure a liveable and sustainable future for all, the report makes clear that there are multiple, feasible and effective actions that governments can take.
“What is required now is real leadership on the issue. Instead, what we have here is a government that has been painfully slow to act.
“Over recent weeks, an increasing number of voices have raised concerns that current government measures to meet 2030 targets lack in scale and ambition and that we have little to no hope of reaching them if things continue at their current pace. If it wasn’t clear to them already, today’s IPCC report makes clear that the government can’t continue their business-as-usual approach of slow progress and delays in progressing towards renewables.
“The government has multiple options available to them to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions. We can achieve the climate resilient development the report calls for, combining efforts to tackle climate change with actions that provide wider benefits.
“For example, with our offshore wind potential, Ireland is uniquely placed to become a world leader in this field and reduce our greenhouse gas emissions significantly. Yet there remains a lack of clarity around and inaction on government plans to harness this potential.
“We know the steps that are necessary that are needed to deliver the major changes in the energy sector that are necessary in order to achieve a just transition. We have the tools to achieve them. What we are currently lacking is the political will, determination and drive to deliver real progress.
“Sinn Féin is ready to deliver this change.”
MacManus calls for emergency mind-set to tackle energy poverty
Chris MacManus, MEP for the Midlands Northwest, has called for an emergency mind-set to tackle energy poverty. MacManus made his comments after a meeting with Karina Timothy, Regional Coordinator, and John Toolan, Information Support Officer, from the West Regional Office of the St Vincent de Paul in Galway, alongside his Sinn Féin colleague Mairéad Farrell TD. “SVP’s team explained the staggering increases in demand for their services; a 19% increase in calls for service altogether, and a 24% increase in first-time callers. A lot more working families now need support from SVP, and requests for help are getting larger. This on-the-ground experience shows how the cost of living crisis is pushing more and more people into poverty - this is a scandal in one the supposedly wealthiest countries in the EU.”
“Following up on SVP’s recent report revealing the extent of energy poverty in Ireland, I asked John and Karina about their experiences of the energy crisis when offering their services. SVP has managed to get support from energy companies to help maintain people’s energy supply, but the costs of this solution are significant. On top of this, they highlighted problems that people have with switching their energy provider online, and moving away from more expensive prepay meters. People are losing heat through energy inefficient housing and the SEAI grants are not effective in addressing this for low-income households.”
“SVP are calling for the benchmarking of social welfare payments to keep up with the cost of living. A Sinn Féin government would increase social welfare rates to the Minimum Essential Standard of Living and implement a Living Wage to ensure that work pays. SVP also recommends measures to protect those struggling to pay their energy bills, such as a social energy tariff, better measures to avoid disconnection and support for households that have accumulated debt on their bills. The government needs to make sure that these and other tools are at their disposal to tackle the full extent of this emergency.”
“For example, this week the European Commission proposed some reforms of the EU’s electricity market in an effort to better control prices in the future. These include measures to protect vulnerable customers, such as disconnection bans and fixed price rates. However, the EU’ Electricity Directive leaves it up to national governments to decide who falls under the definition of ‘vulnerable customer’, and in Ireland this only applies to the elderly and those with specific medical needs. A clear first step would be to expand this definition to include low-income households and those at risk of energy poverty, in order to increase the protections offered to these groups.”
MacManus concluded, “We need an emergency mind-set to tackle energy poverty and the cost-of-living crisis. During the pandemic, we saw what can be done when the political will exists to take public control of essential services, provide emergency supports to those struggling and to implement measures that stand in the way of corporate profits. This emergency approach must be applied to ensure the right to energy for all.”
See attached photo of (L-R): Chris MacManus MEP, John Toolan, Karina Timothy and Mairéad Farrell TD at the SVP Office in Galway
Sinn Féin MP John Finucane has called for the immediate restoration of the Executive and said huge opportunities to strengthen the economy and create better jobs must be seized.
The North Belfast MP said:
“The negotiation between the EU and the British government has concluded. It’s now time to move forward.
“We need the Assembly and Executive restored and parties working together to tackle the problems in our health service and deliver for workers, families and businesses.
“Ten months ago, the people voted in a democratic Assembly election, yet no power-sharing coalition government has yet been formed.
“The democratic outcome of that election must be respected.
“The onus is now on the British and Irish governments, the Stormont parties, not least the DUP, to get back to business and form a government which will support families and workers
“The Withdrawal Agreement Joint Committee formally meets in London on 24 March to adopt the deal into EU law, and as we move to implementation stage it is imperative that the Good Friday Agreement institutions are fully restored.”
Sinn Féin MLA Linda Dillon has said health workers are entitled to a fair pay rise and safe working conditions.
Linda Dillon said:
“Health and social care workers are entitled to a fair pay rise and safe working conditions and I commend their determination and solidarity to achieve progress on these issues.
“They should never have had to take to the streets on picket lines in the depth of winter for fair pay and safe working conditions, particularly with the huge pressure they have faced over recent years.
“Any agreed outcome to negotiations in the absence of an Executive must include health and social care staff here.
“The British Government should have engaged with these workers and their unions months ago and they now need to invest more money in health and social care to tackle the crises right across our health service.
“This is also a clear onus on parties here to get back around the Executive table and work together to prevent a collapse in our health service. Our health workers can’t wait any longer.”