Sinn Fein TD for Kilkenny Carlow
Irish Society as a whole has been through a terrible time during the pandemic and so many suffered bereavement and loss but throughout it all we saw huge courage and acts of kindness from our frontline workers, our community and voluntary groups, our carers and countless individuals who went the extra mile to ensure their neighbours had the support they needed.
Now we have the opportunity to recognise the contribution that people made. Sinn Fein have suggested a number of ways this could be done including an additional public holiday and a voucher scheme, similar to that in the north, which everyone can avail of. We had already proposed an additional holiday to mark the 1916 Rising and next year would be an ideal opportunity to bring this forward.
With regard to frontline workers – of course they need special recognition and the respective Unions have put proposals on the table regarding additional leave and payments – the government need to engage in those discussions in a spirit of generosity – I have to say the approach of government so far in tackling issues like the student nurses and midwives has lacked the sort of generosity needed now.As Sinn Fein spokesperson for Children, I particularly want to commend all those working in childcare and the early years education sector for the commitment and professionalism they have shown during the pandemic. It must be pointed out that childcare and early years educators are some of the lowest paid professionals in the wider education sector and yet they were expected to resume their roles whilst their colleagues in primary and secondary schools were able to resume remote teaching.
They have played a pivotal and vital role in ensuring Irelands recovery and they must be recognised for the work they did.
Similarly when I meet with frontline health workers while they obviously want recognition for their work during the pandemic but the bigger issue for them is the sort of health service they are going to work in in the future – they want a health service that works for patients, for those frontline workers and for our society – that means proper investment in healthcare and never having a system left so exposed as it has been over the past 18 months.