Today, the nurses and midwives of Ireland have taken to the picket lines to fight for pay parity with other healthcare professionals.

37,000 members of the INMO stood proudly outside hospitals and HSE facilities from 8 am to show the Government that they’ve been mistreated for far too long.

As I drove past St. James’s Hospital on my bus this morning I was overcome with a sense of both pride and emotion when I spotted the crowds of nurses at the picket line.

The Government may fail to see their value, but any person who has had a loved one or has been in the hospital themselves knows, the nurses are the true heroes.

They may not be the ones who perform life-saving operations, but they are the ones who offer love, care and humanity in a place that can be so unbearably isolating and intimidating.

They reassured my family with kind smiles when my Mam was admitted to the intensive care unit.

They popped into the family room at the end of their shifts to make sure we had something to eat and drink between hours and hours of anxious waiting.

They not only treated my Mam like a patient but most importantly a person. They joked with her about the doctors who had poor bedside manner, they comforted her on nerve-wracking trips to CT scans and never once let her feel lonely when she spent weeks away from her own bed, her home and her family.

They always ensured to be chirpy and optimistic when chatting to us about Mam and her treatments, ailments and fears.

They were the ones who rushed to her aid in the middle of the night. The ones who made her laugh when she was upset about having to stay another day and another and another.

They were the ones who reassured me and my sisters that this was only temporary and that one day Mam would be back home, listening to Sunshine 106.8 and complaining about the heating being turned off.

They gave us hope during the darkest times.

They offered support during the harrowing moments.

They were the heroes we desperately neede on the terrifying days.

And that is why I stand with the nurses and midwives of Ireland because they have always stood by both their patients and their family’s sides no matter how over-worked, emotionally drained and exhausted they were.