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Anger as healthcare heroes will face being clamped while at work

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A clamper at work

A clamper at work

Damien Eagers / INM

A clamper at work

Hospital workers face a greater chance of having their cars clamped near work after Dublin City Council decided to end a parking fee exemption.

In March the authority told Dublin Street Parking Services to exercise discretion when clamping cars parked in areas surrounding hospitals due to the Covid emergency.

But in a memo sent to the Lord Mayor of Dublin and the elected members of the council, chief executive Owen Keegan claimed due to increasing traffic volumes and demand for on-street parking, relaxed parking restrictions "cannot be sustained".

Mr Keegan's memo revealed residents who had parking permits and lived near hospitals were finding it hard to park outside their homes due to the amnesty.

Danger

The decision to introduce tighter controls from next month comes as the Government tries to reinforce the message that we are still in danger from the virus.

Last night the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) expressed its disappointment with the move.

"Frontline healthcare workers will be really disappointed with this change," said a spokesperson.

"It has been an exceptionally stressful time in the health service, and the provision of parking has made a big difference.

"Nurses and midwives have shown incredible commitment during the pandemic, taking great risks to provide care. It is unreasonable that they should have to pay over €35 a day to simply park at work."

The INMO pointed out that due to late shifts, fatigue, and infection risk, public transport is not an option for many of our members.

"Even if society is slowly normalising, Covid hasn't gone away," said the spokesperson.

"We understand the council is under pressure but now the onus is on the employers to either provide parking directly or make an arrangement with the council."

Mr Keegan said the relaxed parking restrictions "cannot be sustained" and full enforcement will resume in September.

He said: "The non-enforcement of paid parking restrictions in respect of vehicles owned by HSE staff, parked in the vicinity of hospitals, was always intended to be a temporary measure.

"At the time it was introduced it was not a major issue in the various locations where it applied as there was limited demand for on-street parking.

"However with the resumption in economic activity there has been a significant recovery in traffic volumes," he said.

"This has led to a situation where residents with residents parking permits, living in the vicinity of major hospitals, cannot access on-street parking at or close to their homes at certain times.

"A decision has now been made that the concession will end on August 31, after which a full parking enforcement service will operate in the vicinity of hospitals."

Free

Sinn Féin councillor Séamas McGrattan called for the council to reconsider its decision and extend free parking for health workers.

"Dublin City Council management have confirmed that free parking for healthcare staff is to end. But the Covid-19 pandemic won't," he said.

"Nurses and doctors will continue to put their lives on the line, continuing to carry the stress and isolation of being front line staff.

"Healthcare workers deserve the city's support and solidarity. Free parking is the least that they can expect at this time."

He added that he has written to Health Minister Stephen Donnelly, the council, the HSE and others about the issue.