Laois nurses are on the picket line in Portlaoise for day two of escalating strike action by the Irish Nurses & Midwives Organisation.
Pickets are posted outside Midland Regional Hospital Portlaoise and the Primary Care Centre at St Fintan's campus. Added to local pickets today are St Vincent's community nursing unit in Mountmellick, Abbeyleix District Hospital and Moore Abbey in Monasterevin.
Linda Rigney is a nurse in the outpatients department of Portlaoise hospital and is on the picket.
"I've worked in the hospital for nearly 30 years. In the absence of any engagement from the government we have no choice but to carry on. For patient safety, for the future of nursing in the country, and we won't back down," she said.
She said public support is strong.
"Public support has been excellent, we are very thankful to people for that. I think most people have seen first hand the conditions in the hospitals, the short staffing, all of the problems caused by that, the overcrowding.
"Nobody wants to be on strike, we certainly aren't striking against the patients. In the end we hope this will improve the lot of patients and patient safety. We hope it will be resolved sooner rather than later," she said.
Murial Russell explained what motivates her.
"To me, this is about my family, me, my siblings and everybody in this area who will end up in a hospital at some point, and about the care they deserve. Not a mickey mouse of a service, and that's what we're giving at the moment, because we don't have the nurses to give the care they should be getting,"
Public health nurse Anna Morris is working in the Stradbally area.
"Where I am, we have had reduced staff levels for the last eight months. There is no plan to improve that and as a result, some of the older children are not having their developmental check-ups, elderly people who need to be seen on a regular basis becuase they are vulnerable living alone, with home care packages, I simply cannot get to them due to the volume of work. And that's basically it, nothing is changing and the government is not listening," she said.
More strikes are planned this Thursday February 7, next Tuesday to Thursday February 12, 13 and 14, and then February 19 and 21. A national rally for nurses is planned this Saturday at the memorial gardens in Dublin.
Below: nurses on strike at St Fintan's HSE campus in Portlaoise