TDs and senators from across the political divide have taken a trip aboard the blood bus to highlight the importance of donating blood.

Members of the Oireachtas were yesterday collected from Leinster House and brought to a blood-donation clinic on Dublin’s D’Olier St as part of a drive to recruit around 15,000 new donors.

Health Minister Simon Harris said: “Only about 3% of the eligible population actually make blood donations, but yet about one in four of us will require blood transfusions at some stage during our life. It’s so important that any of us who are eligible to donate blood do go ahead and do it.”

Junior Health Minister Helen McEntee, senator Martin Conway; and TDs Tom Neville and Kate O’Connell, all of Fine Gael; as well as Fianna Fáil’s Margaret Murphy O’Mahony; Sinn Féin’s Louise Reilly; and Independent Alliance TD Kevin ‘Boxer’ Moran were among those donating blood.

A number of politicians, including Mr Harris, were not eligible to donate on the day. He encouraged people to visit before visiting clinics.

The Irish Blood Transfusion Service recently issued a call for extra donations as the national blood supply was down to just three days.

Mr Harris said: “We must all play our part in meeting this need, and I particularly encourage young people to consider giving blood.”

Asked about the threat of a nurses strike as members of the Irish Nurses & Midwives Organisation (INMO) are balloted for strike action, Mr Harris said there would be ongoing consultation with the union.

Mr Harris said that “we shouldn’t get ahead of ourselves” as nurses have yet to ballot.

“I understand that the ballot is not due to be back until December 15, so there is a period of time here and obviously during that time the Minister for Public Expenditure has made it clear that he intends to engage with the Irish Congress of Trade Unions with their public services committee. The INMO are members of that committee, their own general secretary sits on that committee, so there will be an engagement with ICTU.

The INMO announced this week that it is to ballot its 40,000 members in a bid to speed up pay restoration. The union is also seeking special recruitment and retention measures.

If passed, the industrial action would start with a work-to-rule and accelerate to one-day stoppages.

Mr Harris said he would be meeting with members of the INMO towards the end of next week. “I would encourage everybody across the public service to engage with the process that Minister [Paschal] Donohoe has outlined,” he said.


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