Sligo Leitrim Fianna Fail TD Marc Mac Sharry has said the Government should sanction a ‘special recognition’ payment to all frontline health and social care professionals together with An Garda Siochana given their extraordinary contribution throughout the ongoing pandemic.
“Our Celtic cousins in Scotland, Wales and indeed here in the North have already announcement plans to pay all £500 each,” he said.
The Public Accounts Committee member said, “for many months’ political leaders, public commentators and members of the public have rightly praised and applauded all of our caregivers and lifesavers who have put themselves in harms way.
“We must provide tangible recognition with such a payment independent and in addition to existing pay agreements. A similar amount of between €575 -€1000 should be made available to all those who have served us so well at the sharp end of the Covid crisis. Part time works should also be provided with this recognition on a pro rata basis”.
“Irrespective of ongoing pay agreements it is simply essential that we express our appreciation in a more tangible way.
“ The total cost would be between €70m-€120m which while significant in no way reflects the level of indebtedness of all citizens to the extraordinary contribution of those who operate face to face with Covid so that others may live and be safe. It is simply the right thing to do.”
Mac Sharry concluded; “other jurisdictions have shown us that such payments can be made if the political will is there. It has been reported in media in early January that existing pay agreements do not provide for such a recognition payment to be made.
“Clearly legislation will be required to provide for such payments, but it can and should be done. We have seen in recent weeks in a proposed mouth-watering pay increase for one individual state role without any adherence to pay agreements or international benchmarking and so our front-line caregivers and lifesavers can and should be acknowledged in this way.
“Private sector employers in health, social care, and essential retail should also demonstrate their gratitude to staff in a similar way.”
Speaking in Dail Eireann, Deputy Marian Harkin also called on Minister Donnelly to give ex gratia payments to all healthcare workers.
She said: “I am not jumping on any bandwagon in simply repeating the call from the Irish Midwives & Nurses Organisation (INMO). Almost a month ago I put down a question to the Minister asking if you would consider a flat rate payment to healthcare workers. The payment should not be taxable and everybody should receive the same level of payment”.
She added “While no money could ever repay them for standing in the breech, it would nonetheless be a small token of our gratitude.”