Nurses Set To Claim Victory In Showdown With Government

The recent attempts by the Irish Government to recruit new nurses into the profession at 80% of the usual starting wage has backfired.

Nursing Unions have mounted a vocal campaign against the scheme which they regard as an insult to the work done by nursing staff on the front line of the health service. The Irish Health Service Executive (HSE) has been forced to extend the deadline for applications after interest in the jobs was reported as being very low. Should the HSE be forced to abandon the scheme all together it will be seen as a victory for the Unions whose members are increasingly being asked to work longer and harder for less and less pay.

Union leader Liam Doran was scathing of the HSE decision to extend the scheme:
‘The HSE decision also confirms that this was never an educational programme, nor an opportunity to consolidate learning, but was always an overt attempt to introduce cut-price, yellow-pack nursing posts into our health service.’

Under the Government proposals new nurses would earn 22,000 euro (approx 30,000 US$) compared to their colleagues who were recruited at 26,000 euro (approx 35,000 US$). The contracts were to last for only 2 years. The average industrial wage in Ireland in 2012 was just under 42,000 euro (57,000 US$) according to the Central Statistics Office.

By any measure these rates of pay would show nursing to be a very poorly paid job for highly trained graduates to take up in Ireland. Yet their work is crucial to just about every citizen of the country.

by Michael Green
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Big Increase in Smoking Among Irish Women

There has been a big increase in the number of Irish women who smoke cigarettes. One in three Irish women now smoke regularly with lung cancer now overtaking breast cancer as the main cause of cancer death among women in Ireland.

Tobacco companies have been blamed for targeting women, depicting their products as glamorous and buying high-profile endorsements in television programs such as ‘Sex in the City’, among others. The desire of younger women especially to curb their weight has also led to an increase in smoking since the use of cigarettes curbs appetite.

Perhaps most depressing is the statistic released by the Irish Cancer Society revealing that among women in disadvantaged or poorer sections of Irish society the rate of smoking may be a high as 50%. It is quite clear that among such groups that smoking is seen as a ‘coming of age’ event with children starting to smoke younger and younger.

The World Health Organisation reports that smoking among men in developed countries is actually in decline yet among women smoking is on the increase. Recent WHO statistics have shown that of the near 59 Million deaths worldwide in 2004 nearly 10% were directly caused by smoking. The developing world (ie poorer countries than Western countries) account for 70% of these deaths, once again underlining the conclusion that smoking is much more prevalent among the poor.

A recent Australian study revealed the following rates of smoking internationally:
Afghanistan 50% Greece 39% Russia 35% India 32% Ireland 27% UK 24% Australia 18% Canada 17% USA 17% Iran 11%

by Michael Green
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Abortion debate ignited by tragic death in Galway Hospital

 The death of Savita Halappanavar in Galway University Hospital on October 28th has re-ignited the smoldering abortion debate in Ireland. The 31-year-old woman died after her medically induced miscarriage went wrong and, despite repeatedly asking that the miscarriage be induced further to hasten its completion, it seems that this request may have been denied. The death of Mrs. Halappanavar, who was a native of India, was reported in the ‘India Times’ newspaper under the headline: ‘Ireland Murders Pregnant Indian Dentist’. An investigation into the exact circumstance of her death is under way but regardless of its outcome the divisive issue of abortion is very much back on the Irish agenda.

Abortion is as socially divisive in Ireland as it is in most countries. Abortion ‘on demand’ is illegal in Ireland, resulting in hundreds of women travelling to Britain every year for the procedure. The infamous ‘X’ case highlighted the inadequacies of Irish law two decades ago, dealing as it did with the issue of a 14-year-old girl who became pregnant after being raped. The Irish Supreme Court has already decided that a termination of a pregnancy is allowable once there is a specific risk to the life of the mother. Despite this successive Irish governments have failed to introduce legislation to clearly define when such abortions are permitted. Medical staff in hospitals are thus operating in a grey legal area with every case having its own unique set of circumstances.

It is clear that the Irish government must finally act and introduce legislation immediately so that all parties to the debate know exactly where they stand. It is appalling though that it has taken the death of this woman to put the issue back on the agenda.