As we gather in the Chamber this morning, communities are gathering in Dunlewey, Gortahork and Falcarragh for the funerals of the four men who were killed last Sunday evening. Guím gach tacaíocht ón dTeach seo go dtí an ceantar sin inniu, go háirithe go dtí clanna agus cairde an cheathrair.
Yesterday, 30,000 members of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation, INMO, began a 24-hour work stoppage and completed that at 8 a.m. This is only the second time in 100 years that they were forced to do that, which gives an indication of their frustration and anger at the issues facing them in their jobs daily. Today, an additional 6,000 psychiatric nurses have initiated an overtime ban which will impact on services throughout the country. Further strikes are planned by the INMO and the Psychiatric Nurses Association, PNA, for tomorrow relating to overtime bans, and again for next week. There is a huge recruitment and retention crisis in the mental health sector, which we will discuss later, but particularly in nursing. There has been a 40% increase in vacancies in psychiatric nursing since November 2017.
What we had yesterday was the Taoiseach acting as a commentator once again. It was like he was Ingrid Miley outside the talks and giving his commentary on those talks. There is no sense of leadership from him, no sense of engagement, and no sense of concern to try to avoid the second strike, which will happen next Tuesday for the INMO, or to stop the overtime ban which is happening today.
What progress has the Taoiseach or the Cabinet made since last Monday, when the Labour Court met for eight hours and tried to work a path between both parties? Did the Government get a report from that court work on Monday? What actions have been taken by the Government during this week to try to address the concerns of the nurses in both organisations and to try to establish a process within which their concerns can be dealt addressed with respect and integrity? Is the Government just putting its head in the sand again, when once again next Tuesday they will take to the pickets and all the Government will offer is tea and sympathy?