Gilmore defends nurse jobs scheme


Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore has defended paying newly qualified nurses 20 per cent less than the normal starting salary.

Amid heated Dáil exchanges today, Mr Gilmore said the proposal was about creating jobs. “That is our top priority,” he added. “It is about getting people into employment and gaining experience.”

He said the 35,000 nurses working currently in the system would be increased to 36,000.

“These are additional posts for graduate nurses...and, you know, at a time when there is so much unemployment, when there are so many young graduates who cannot get work at all, I think members of this House should be welcoming the creation of jobs rather than coming in here and complaining about it,” he added.

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin said Minister for Health Dr James Reilly had said that if nurses and midwives were not happy with the initiative, they could emigrate or work in fast food outlets.

This, Mr Martin said, was an appalling intervention by the Minister and represented a let them eat cake attitude.

Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald said it was very clear that 1,000 existing posts within the system would be displaced to bring in graduates and exploit them.

Independent TD Mattie McGrath said that when Mr Gilmore was in Opposition he had been full of righteous indignation. “Is this Labour’s way now?” he asked.

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