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Allegations of Serious Racism Against Migrant Nurses at Munster’s Largest Hospital Prompt Calls for Dáil Intervention

A Cork TD is urging the escalation of “shocking” allegations detailing incidents of severe racism targeted at migrant nurses in Munster’s largest hospital, with a recommendation to raise the matter in the Dáil. At least three foreign-born nurses have formally complained to management at Cork University Hospital (CUH), citing sustained and unacceptable racially motivated abuse during their duties. An additional 29 nurses have endorsed a petition to the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation, echoing similar claims and urging decisive action.

According to reports in the Irish Independent, multiple nurses have made grave accusations of racist behaviour at CUH. The nurses, believed to be from India and operating under the ‘Atypical Working Scheme,’ have registered complaints with CUH bosses. Critics argue that the visa programme, allowing individuals to legally reside and work in Ireland for six months with the option to extend to a one-year work permit, leaves migrant health workers in a vulnerable and unstable position, despite their crucial role in the health system.

Deputy Mick Barry has expressed his intention to urgently meet with Migrant Nurses Ireland (MNI) to discuss the concerning allegations. The Socialist TD for Cork North Central has stated that he will pursue raising the issue in the Dáil following discussions with MNI, emphasizing the vital role played by migrant nurses in sustaining the health service.

“I have long been of the opinion that the structure of the state’s visa programmes allows for huge power imbalances between employers and managers on the one hand and migrant workers on the other, and I suspect that these cases may well underline the need for radical change on this front,” said Deputy Barry.

One of the nurses reported being subjected to offensive comments such as, “You only move here to steal our benefits; you get pregnant as soon as you land; you have 3 or 4 babies and take everything from us; you smell; you don’t wash your hands after using the toilet; and spread COVID in our country, you kill Irish patients.”

The nurses also claim difficulties in applying for their one-year working visas. Migrant Nurses Ireland, a nonprofit organisation supporting international nurses in Ireland, expressed concern that this may not be an isolated case in the Irish healthcare system, emphasising the need for reciprocal support for those brought in to bolster the health system.

CUH has reportedly enlisted external investigators to examine at least one unfair treatment complaint, and the HSE is conducting its own investigation into the troubling situation at the hospital. The HSE highlighted its commitment to the “dignity, well-being, and safety of employees and service users” and stressed its zero-tolerance approach to bullying and harassment.”

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