Vivienne Phelan, Fine Gael local election candidate in the Portarlington Graiguecullen municipal district.
A Laois local election candidate has stirred up anger among nurses after her tweet criticising student nurses.
Veterinarian Vivienne Phelan from the Stradbally area is a Fine Gael member running in her first local election in the Portarlington Graiguecullen Municipal District.
She tweeted last Monday, April 8 saying she was "fed up hearing about student nurses and their payment for placement".
"Vet students complete a lot of placement. Lots of travel costs. Lots of accommodation costs. No pay. Keeping up with the rent in Dublin at the same time. Not possible to get a part-time job, unlike nurses."
Fed up hearing about student nurses and their payment for placement.— Vivienne Phelan (@ViviennePhelan) April 8, 2019
Vet students complete a lot of placement. Lots of travel costs. Lots of accommodation costs. No pay. Keeping up with the rent in Dublin at the same time. Not possible to get a part-time job unlike nurses.
It provoked a storm of angry replies on social media.
I am a 3rd year student nurse. I have worked 85 hours over the passed 9 days- both days & nights! 60 of those hours were unpaid. I have no choice but to work part-time in order to survive & pursue my lifelong dream of helping others. I will remember your comment at election time!— Sarah O' (@SarahMul92) April 11, 2019
Really, you're fed up? all students who work should be paid! Nursing students work in particularly abysmal conditions, over 50% of their course is unpaid or a pittance and they also do 13hr shifts. Instead of moaning and being divisive, maybe pull together!— Suzi Kennefick (@SuziQ666) April 9, 2019
Wow, impressive. With one tweet you commited political suicide. And your political carer hasn't even begun.— Joanna Hickey (@misspollyanna) April 10, 2019
On Facebook, Support for Nurses, Midwives and Frontline Staff in Ireland issued a statement with an image of her tweet.
"In typically, uncaring and obnoxious Fine Gael style, candidate Vivienne Phelan of the County Laois area finds student nurses and nurses irritating. Her tweet is an absolute disgrace especially at a time when understaffing and overcrowding is at an all-time high as a direct result of so many nurses and midwives being forced to emigrate".
"It appears to us that young Ms Phelan has a lot to learn. Firstly, what was the point of that tweet? Why direct it at one sector? Don't anger those who you need to get you elected Vivienne!
Secondly come walk in our shoes for a couple of weeks before spouting rubbish and trying to create a divide!
And thirdly why is it not possible for student vets to get a part time job?
You really have a lot to learn Vivienne!"
"There is a hospital in Portlaoise with many of the staff living in Laois. Thankfully, you've just lost their votes Vivienne. But on the bright side, Leo and his colleagues in government would be proud of you! The rest of us aren't!" the group state.
Ms Phelan sent a follow up tweet that did not get a much better response