UNISON Northern Ireland

Call for minute’s silence to honour all workers who have died from coronavirus

UNISON, the Royal College of Nursing Northern Ireland and the Royal College of Midwives Northern Ireland are today launching a joint campaign calling on people across Northern Ireland to observe a minute’s silence next Tuesday (28 April) to remember all the health, care and other key workers who have lost their lives to coronavirus across the UK and Ireland.

UNISON, the Royal College of Nursing Northern Ireland and the Royal College of Midwives Northern Ireland – who between them represent tens of thousands of workers across Northern Ireland, including nurses, midwives, homecare workers, care assistants, support services staff in education and those working in the community and voluntary sector - are urging politicians, employers, people at work and those on lockdown at home to join the tribute at 11am.

The minute’s silence – held on International Workers’ Memorial Day – will allow everyone to pay their respects and give thanks for the lives of those whose work involved caring, saving lives, keeping key services running and the rest of us safe. The tribute is also a show of support for the families of those who have died.

UNISON Regional Secretary Patricia McKeown said: “This is the ultimate tribute to remember workers who’ve lost their lives and put themselves in harm’s way to keep us safe and vital services running. Every year the sacrifice of workers around the world is recognised, but this year has a special significance because of the pandemic.

Thousands of key staff are on the frontline while the rest of us are in lockdown. That’s why we’ve issued this call for everyone in Northern Ireland to take part and remember the sacrifices they’ve made. The best tribute we can all pay them is to stay inside to protect our health and social care system.”

RCN Northern Ireland Director, Pat Cullen said: “We’ve become used to hearing applause on a Thursday night to thank key workers, but this silence will be a poignant reminder of the risks that nurses and other key workers face to keep us all safe. I hope the public gets behind this with the same affection they show when applauding our people. 

This silence is a simple show of respect for those who have paid the very highest price, but for their loved ones it demonstrates the levels of gratitude we feel, and we hope they take some comfort from that.”

Royal College of Midwives Northern Ireland Director Karen Murray said: “We had expected 2020 to be a celebration of the International Year of the Nurse and Midwife but, although we actively applaud their service, this is not what we had imagined. 

Instead, across the country, midwives and maternity support workers are seeing the impact of coronavirus not only on the women in their care, but on their colleagues as well. 

We are proud to join UNISON and the RCN in this campaign and to recognise and remember those who we have lost.”