WATCH: Maurice Quinlivan praises 'incredible work' of front-line staff in Limerick and nationally

SINN Fein TD Maurice Quinlivan has thanked front-line workers at University Hospital Limerick for their efforts during the pandemic.

Making his first address to Dail Eireann since his re-election in February, Mr Quinlivan also said the coronavirus pandemic has raised the need for government to support the HSE and its staff "all year round".

"When this crisis passes, it’s vital the investment and proper staffing levels needed for University Hospital Limerick are provided, as we don’t want a return to the massive waiting lists and trolley numbers," he told yesterday's sparse sitting of Dail Eireann.

He also called on Enterprise Minister Heather Humphreys to outline her plans to ensure workers will be safe when they do return to work.

"Will businesses be legally obliged to provide hand sanitizer, Perspex glass, and other protective equipment. What legal protections will workers have if employers do not provide these," he asked, "We are expecting to hear soon when some sectors will be returning to work, but this has to be done in a safe and orderly manner."

“Workers need clarity on what protections they will have, and businesses need to know how they can prepare to alter their working spaces to make it safe for their employees," he said.

In response, Ms Humphreys said the government is preparing a document around worker protection shortly.

"It will include specific guidance around how to implement physical distancing in the workplace, respiratory hygiene and hand hygiene. We are working closely with the HSE and the HSA to ensure we have those guidelines, as it is important for employees and employers to know whether they have the right conditions in place for those who are continuing to work or hope to return to work. We are also engaging with the unions and employers so as to have their input in ensuring a safe and protective workplace," she said.

Due to the Covid-19 lockdown, yesterday's sitting represented the first time Mr Quinlivan had attended since the first say of the Dail.

He said: "Due to the extraordinary times we are living in, this is my first contribution to the 33rd Dáil despite being re-elected back in February. Therefore, I want to take this opportunity to sincerely thank all those who trusted in me and voted for me back in February. Topping the poll in Limerick City was a huge honour, and I will continue to stand up for and represent all the people of Limerick and North Tipperary to the very best of my ability."

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