The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation has said that the union has had "absolutely no engagement with the [HSE] in a meaningful way" on the issue of compensation for work during the pandemic.

Speaking on RTÉ's Claire Byrne, General Secretary Phil Ni Sheaghdha said: "We have made a very strong argument that the additional hours they put in unpaid that the risk, the very high risk, that they faced and continue to face should have specific compensation. We made that claim last November."

Since then, the union has been actively seeking engagement on the matter.

"This is back to the political system and really it is a matter of saying, do you really value the work that was done by those who went into the eye of the storm? If you do, then get into talks and let's agree how that is translated," she said.

She described media reports as "kite flying".

When asked how she felt about claims from other industries that they should also receive a bonus, Ms Ni Sheaghdha said: "We all agree that everybody in Ireland did their best during Covid but the people I am representing had no choice, but to go to work. They had very high-risk situations."

She said that the workforce is "exhausted" and there is a risk that the health service will lose vital staff who are burnt out.

Ms Ni Sheaghdha said a lot of the workforce is experiencing long Covid and there is a need for "specific clinical pathways" to support a return to work.

Healthcare workers are also continuing to contract the virus, which is leading to a depletion of rosters.

Ms Ni Sheaghdha said if the Government is looking at another Bank Holiday then "that is an issue that is separate to the issue we are raising".