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The healthcare crisis is escalating as the nurses and midwives remain on strike for another day this week.

The impact on tens of thousands of patients is causing chaos, as members of the public are asked not to use out of hours GP services as hundreds of doctors gather for a protest in Dublin.

News has since emerged that a rally will take place this Saturday, allowing members of the public to support the nurses and Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO).

Over 35,000 nurses and midwives voted overwhelmingly in favour of industrial action late last year, with their first 24-hour stoppage taking place on January 30 and second strike occurring yesterday.

The Facebook post reads; "Join the nurses' protest, called by the INMO, this Sat 12.30pm Parnell Square Dublin. Leo Varadkar and the Fine Gael led government are refusing to negotiate with the nurses."

It continues, "They are ignoring the huge public support for their legitimate claims. Most of us know that nurses deserve equality of treatment with other professional grades, better pay will help ease the recruitment crisis and that means better patient care in our hospitals."

"Nurses do not want to strike – they would prefer to care for their patients. We can help by turning our sympathy into a major display of solidarity." it concludes, calling on the public to text their numbers to join the rally at the Garden of Remembrance.

Further strike action is expected to take place on February 7, 12, 13, 14, 19, and 21, which is sure to affect a huge amount of patients.

Patients are being asked by the National Association of GP Co-ops to travel to emergency departments, or to wait to see their own GP if any ailment is experienced.

Other disruptions include the cancellation of outpatient appointments, non-urgent surgery, and respite, rehabilitation, and day centre services. An estimated 50,000 patients in the past week were affected.

Another strike is expected tomorrow, with up to 75,000 people likely to be affected. 

As of last night, there appears to be little hope of resolving the pay dispute, with the INMO accusing the Government of “recycling” ideas and calling on them to “come to the table unconditionally”.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar admitted that direct contact should have been made with nursing unions regarding further talks at the Workplace Relations Commission to resolve their dispute, instead of through a press release.

He responded to critique from  Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin, who claimed the statement was an "appalling and a pathetic way" to approach the dispute.

Yesterday, the Fine Gael Government issued a statement saying it was willing to engage in talks on issues other than pay to try to overcome the nurses' strike.

General Secretary of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation Phil Ni Sheaghdha said the Government had not communicated directly with the unions.

Adult mental health services are also coming under huge strain today and tomorrow due to a ban on overtime, including night rosters, as members of the Psychiatric Nurses Association (PNA) engage in industrial action. 

Doctors will join the disagreement by heading to the Dáil to protest at conditions and pay cuts, which was organised by the National Association of General Practitioners.

Other aspects of the healthcare crisis involve a lack of beds, and the disastrous cost of the new National Paediatric Hospital, which sum now stands at €1.7 billion.

Feature image: Extra.ie

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Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said that he supports President Donald Trump's criticism from the press. 

The remarks were reportedly made at a private lunch held in New York on Monday. 

The event, hosted by Irish Consul General Ciaran Madden, was for young Irish workers across various sectors in New York City.

According to The Times,  when asked what he thought of Trump's attack on the US press, Leo said that the media was not interested in the truth but only in getting a story.

He was particularly scathing of political journalists, who he claimed were more interested in gossip rather than what the Government is actually doing. 

Reportedly a heated exchange followed as other members pointed out that the media had unearthed the Weinstein sexual assault allegations among other controversies. 

Social media had a strong reaction to Leo's comments, as some agreed with the Taoiseach while others were outraged that he had sided with Trump. 

Some were quick to jump to his defence, saying, ''you can criticise the media while supporting free speech. Taoiseach's points taken out of context imo.''

Others were not so understanding, stating that the whole episode was a ''strange, unsettling criticism of the media by our Taoiseach.'' 

According to RTE News, NUJ Irish General Secretary Seamus Dooley said it was ''bizarre'' that the Taoiseach would side with such a divisive political figure. 

Leo later said that his comments were ''taken out of context.''  

A spokesperson said that the Taoiseach "believes that a free, fair and balanced press is a cornerstone of our democracy".

Judging by the furore on Twitter, it seems like Leo might have a bit more explaining to do…

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The Taoiseach of Ireland, Leo Varadkar, is the new cover man of Time Magazine.

The European edition of the magazine, which will be published in full on July 24, will see Leo grace the front cover, while inside, he talks about his new position as Taoiseach of our country.

The author of interview, Jennifer Duggan, writes: "Varadkar takes up the post of Taoiseach at a time when the Republic of Ireland has emerged from a deep financial crisis and its economy is turning around.

"But he knows that, especially given external threats such as the neighbouring UK's withdrawal from the European Union, continued progress is not guaranteed.

"He brings a straight-talking style to the office."

The interview took place at the beginning of the month, July 7, and he frankly talks about his sexuality, Brexit and Ireland, and Donald Trump.

This will be an interesting read. 

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New Taoiseach Leo Varadkar will have his first official phone call with US President Donald Trump today.

The call is set to come in around 4pm today.

This will be Varadkar's first official phone call with the US President since taking over the reins from Enda Kenny as Taoiseach. 

The call comes as the POTUS has been given the green light to introduce his travel ban.

According to CNN, the US Supreme Court is 'allowing the ban to go into effect for foreign nationals who lack any "bona fide relationship with any person or entity in the United States."'

The ban has been reinstated until autumn. 

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Today is the day that Ireland will have a new Taoiseach, after six years under the leadership of Enda Kenny.

Minister for Social Protection Leo Varadkar is set to take his position as the new Taoiseach this afternoon. 

He'll be nominated by the Dáil this lunchtime and officially assume the position.

He is also set to announce the members of his new cabinet later today.

Yesterday, he addressed the first meeting of the Fine Gael Parliamentary Party since his election as Leader. 

Mr Varadkar confirmed the appointment of Simon Coveney as the Deputy Leader of Fine Gael.

'I am really delighted to appoint Simon Coveney as Deputy Leader of Fine Gael and as a member of the Party’s Executive Council,' he said.

'Simon and I will work together to guide the participation by Fine Gael in the Government, and reform and modernise the Fine Gael Party in the years ahead.'

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Today marks Enda Kenny's final day as Taoiseach – a postilion he has held for the last six years.

The outgoing Fine Gael leader will chair his final cabinet meeting this morning where the agenda is likely to be rounded off with a formal resignation from Mr Kenny.

At 2:00pm this afternoon, the Dáil will resume and it is thought that he will tell TDs and the nation that he is stepping down.

It is likely that Enda Kenny will then give a short farewell speech before travelling to Aras an Uachtarán where he will hand in his resignation to President Higgins.

Fellow party leaders will be given an opportunity to speak in reply to Mr Kenny and the Dáil is expected to adjourn until tomorrow afternoon when attentions will turn to the election of his successor and the announcement of Leo Varadkar's new Cabinet.

It is expected that many of the current ministers will remain in place, however, some may change jobs.

So, what's next for Mr Kenny?

Now aged 66, he is not expected to run the the next election, but according to The Irish Independent, one source revealed 'He would like to remain close to the political action,"

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Today, an internal election will take place in the Dail to decide who will lead the Fine Gael party. 

Members of the Fine Gael parliamentary party will vote this morning between 9am and 12 noon. 

This morning, Taoiseach Enda Kenny took to Twitter to share his thoughts on the election and candidates, and expressed words of support for both. 

'I remember this day almost 15 years ago & the sense of excitement & possibility.'

'On this very important day in their lives, I want to wish both @simoncoveney and @campaignforleo every good wish in today's election.'

'Their participation in this internal election has been democratically valuable & has energised the @FineGael party across Ireland.'

'I pledge my full support to whoever is elected, in the important work at Govt level, to which the new leader will have to dedicate their life in service of the people of this great Republic.'

'My enduring belief in the potential of this country is boundless.'

The result is expected later today.

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With his wife, Nicola, his three young children, Lucy, Alex and Andrew, and a host of dignitaries – including Michael D Higgins and Enda Kenny – in attendance, the funeral of Garda Tony Golden has now taken place. 

The service was held at the small St Oliver Plunkett's church in the parish of Blackrock, Co Louth at 12noon.

©RTE News

 

Prior to the service the funeral cortège, led by Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan, had made its way through the locale 

Businesses in the area have shut for the day as a mark of respect, with most residents instead lining the town's streets.

Most impactful of all, however, was the sight of 35-year-old Garda Tony's coffin being escorted by thousands of his serving colleagues, many of them in uniform.

The church itself can only accommodate some 300 people, so most stood in the grounds, where big screens broadcasting the funeral have been erected.

Nicola, wife of the late Tony  ©RTE News

 

Tony was killed on Sunday when he responded to a local 999 call.

He was shot and shortly afterwards died alongside the 24-year-old shooter, Adrian Crevan Mackin, who turned the gun on himself after fatally striking Garda Golden. 

The killer's partner and the mother of his two children, Siobhán Phillips, 22, remains in a critical condition in a Dublin hospital after also being shot in the head by Crevan Mackin.  

©RTE News

 

This afternoon, the dead garda was remembered as a role model for the community; his brother, Patrick, also described him as a "big gentle giant".

And in his homily, chief celebrant Fr Pádraig Keenan told the congregation that the killing of Garda Golden was "cold blooded murder". He reminded the mourners that Co Mayo-native was the 88th garda to die in the line of duty. 

©RTE News

 

He continued: "It is 88 members too many. He like all the others is mourned by the entire nation.

Fr Keenan went on to say that too many hearts have been broken, and too many lives shattered. There is no place for violence in our society, violence is wrong, always wrong, he stated.

Symbols brought to altar by heartbroken family members include photographs; a club jersey and hurley from the Stephanites GAA club in his native Ballina, Co Mayo; as well as a TV remote control, a soft drink, a bar of chocolate and packet of crisps to recall his cherished "time out".

Garda Golden will now be laid to rest at St Paul's Cemetery Heynestown.

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Giving evidence at the banking inquiry at Leinster House today, former taoiseach Brian Cowen claims that a few years ago Ireland was looking a lot like Greece is now.

In fact, he says that in late September 2008, the banks were just days away from running out of cash completely – something which would have sent the country spiralling into chaos. 

"It was clear that all the banks were running out of cash," he told the hearing earlier today, saying the government then was looking at "days rather than weeks". 

"The issue was going to have to be addressed immediately," the former TD went on to say. "Anglo was running out of cash. We were heading into a very dangerous position."

He continued: "I was coming to the view that given what was potentially at stake, whatever we did would have to have an immediate and dramatic impact in stopping the outflow of funds from banks and indeed reversing the trend if possible."

In an opening statement, Mr Cowen said that allowing Anglo Irish Bank to simply go bust was never an option as that would have had "implications for the whole system".

He said he also feared there would be widespread panic, and a "run on other banks," as well as "irreparable damage to the economy".

Following crisis talks with the International Monetary Fund, on November 21, 2010 the Irish government formally applied for a bailout – and was given €440bn in emergency funds.

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