'We're at crisis point, the Government can't ignore this' - thousands march in support of striking nurses
Thousands of people marched in Dublin today in a huge rally in support of the nurses and midwives as they call for pay parity.
Nurses said they have reached "crisis point" as they highlighted the reality of working on the frontline of our public health system.
The group marched from the Garden of Remembrance on Parnell Square at 12.30pm to Government Buildings.
The action was organised by Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO), who have held three days of strike action over the last two weeks and have three more days planned for the coming week.
They are calling for pay parity to bring the salaries of nurses in line with other health professionals.
Fiona Leahy, who works as a nurse in Limerick, said that her colleagues are at breaking point.
She told Independent.ie: "Things are unsafe, we don't have enough nurses to care for the patients, nurses don't want to be striking but we have been forced to do this and we are doing this for our patients.
"We're at crisis point, the Government can't ignore this any more, they have to do something.
"I think the Government are hoping that the longer this goes on the public might not be with us but the public has been amazing so far so I just hope that support stays."
Another Dublin-based nurse said that they are understaffed due to the pay and conditions.
The young woman, who only identified herself as Roisin, said: "We need more nurses, the fact is that we can't get them in and we can't get them to stay.
"I love nursing but it's becoming incredibly difficult, we're crying out for even agency staff but that's drying up.
"I qualified in 2012 and out of seven of us in our little group there's only two left in the country, it's just chronic.
"We need staff because we're struggling."
INMO President Martina Harkin-Kelly stressed that those involved in the rally would rather be in work, but that the treatment of nurses and midwives needs to improve if the standard of care is to improve.
"We have been deeply humbled by the public support for us during this strike," she said.
"None of us want to be on strike, but it’s heartening to know that the public have our backs when we do.
"This dispute must be resolved. Nurses and midwives are united and the public stand with us. Now it’s time for the government to make serious proposals to avert more strike."
Meanwhile, representatives from the INMO and the Psychiatric Nurses Association were due in the Labour Court today as crunch talks continue.