Update 4.15pm: Sinn Féin is developing policy for a 32-county health service to protect Irish health services affected by Brexit.
Speaking on the second day of the party’s “think-in” event in Co Cavan, Louise O’Reilly TD said that in the context of Brexit, the issue of how health services will be affected is one that keeps coming back.
She said: “We are developing policy on a 32-county health service, which is available for all the citizens on this island.
“Disease does not recognise borders, our health service shouldn’t.
“We have been discussing the level of cooperation that exists currently and how we can deepen and develop that.
“We launched our 32-county women’s health policy document recently, and last week we also launched policy related to nursing and how we will tackle recruitment and retention crisis.
“We will not have a health service if we don’t have the personnel to deliver it.
“This government have failed time and time again, they have let our nurses down.
“We see Fianna Fáil protect the government and they believe nurses are very well paid.
“We don’t believe that, pay has to be central to recruitment and retention issue.
“We also have to deal with role development, opportunities for promotion, time off for study, cover for maternity leave, all these issues have to be dealt with.
“In context of a 32-county health service, what we want to see is the development of a health service for people when they need it, based on need and not on ability to pay.”
The most recent report on recruitment and retention issues in the health sector found that in nursing and midwifery departments difficulties exist in meeting workforce requirements in specific areas.
The report also recommended that Specialist Qualification Allowance currently paid to nurses and midwives who acquire post-graduate qualifications should be increased by 20%.
Commenting on the release of the Report, the Minister for Finance and Public Expenditure & Reform, Paschal Donohoe said: “There are many viewpoints on the issues.
“There is a commitment between public service employers and staff representatives to meet within four weeks to discuss implementation of the Report.
“It is important that this process is adhered to and that space is afforded to reflect on the details and engage in that process.”
The announcement comes after Sinn Féin members gathered to discuss their “vision of a new Ireland – what that means in terms of Brexit, the economy and Irish Unity” at the party’s annual “think-in”.
Over the course of the two days, party representatives discussed the upcoming budget in the 26 counties and how the party’s alternative budget might “bring about shared prosperity, lift the burden from ordinary people and address the health and housing crises”.
Also addressed is the issue of powersharing in the North, of which Sinn Féin’s Conor Murphy has accused the British government of adopting a policy of “drift” in order to protect their interests in the confidence and supply agreement with the DUP.
- Press Association
Sinn Féin remain open to the suggestion of flying the Union Jack over Leinster House to achieve a united Ireland.
Asked if he could envisage the day when the Union Jack would fly over Leinster House, Pearse Doherty said he doesn't think it would come to that but that a discussion was needed to accommodate those of a Unionist tradition in a new Ireland.
Speaking in Irish at his party's think-in in Cavan, the Sinn Féin deputy Dáil leader said: “We need a conversation about symbolism, for the million people who identify as British and who believe deeply in their identity.
He added: "This is not just a question for Sinn Féin, but other parties in the South should come together to discuss this what kind of united Ireland there will be.”
He also said polls show there is a majority in favour of a united Ireland in the context of Brexit negotiations.
Earlier: Sinn Féin predict 'inevitable' United Ireland could cost island 500,000 jobs
Update 9.54am: Thousands of public sector jobs would be lost if there is a United Ireland.
That is according to a draft document from Sinn Féin, which says unity across the island is inevitable.
New details in their 'Irish Unity - An Activists Guide' predict that as many as 200,000 jobs in the north and 300,000 in the south would go.
However, the document also claims it would lead to a more efficient service under one agency dealing with Government instead of two.
Sinn Féin's David Cullinane says it is an exciting opportunity for people to debate what kind of society we want.
"I think it's inevitable that we will have a United Ireland," he said.
"All of the social changes, demographic changes show that we're moving in that direction, opinion polls show that we're moving in that direction, and we have to start planning.