The Taoiseach Enda Kenny has blamed Fianna Fáil for the ongoing difficulties with working hours for junior doctors.
Up to 3,000 non consultant hospital doctors have withdrawn their services in a dispute over long working hours, resulting in the cancellation of 15,000 appointments and surgeries.
Mr Kenny said the previous Government had 11 years to impose the EU rules on working hours but failed to do so.
He has told the Dáil that he regrets the strike being undertaken by junior doctors today, but he called on the Irish Medical Organisation to go back to the Labour Relations Commission to end the current dispute.
“I would say the place to sort it out is at the Labour Relations Commission - not across the airwaves. That’s a tried and tested forum,” he said.
Mr Kenny said the commission can resolve the dispute.
“I will say that both sides, the invitation is there for them. The propositions are on the table,” he said.
“Surely it’s possible to work out a solution to this and not have people who are distressed and very put out in the situation that applies at the moment.
“I do hope that this will be responded to in a positive fashion and hopefully can be resolved so that, understanding that we want to get to a point at the end of next year where the working time directive is fully implemented in respect of all the doctors and all the hospitals as should be many years ago.”
Dr Anthony O'Connor from the Mater Hospital, who came out on the picket today to support junior doctors, said they want hospitals to implement the EU working time directive and end the practice of shifts of longer than 24 hours.