Tuesday, October 17, 2006

First COHSE Branch in Northern Ireland 1958

First COHSE Branch in Northern Ireland 1958

Armagh Shows the Way


By Miss Katherine. M. Daly, COHSE Organiser

THE enthusiasm of nurses in Northern Ireland is something at which I am still marveling.

Their spontaneous movement to join the Confederation (COHSE) resulted in my first visit to Northern Ireland, where my services were requested, not as is usually the case, to persuade hospital staff to become members, but to welcome a large group of nurses into membership. These nurses were aware of our efforts to improve their salaries and conditions through the Nurses and Midwives Council and were concerned that they were taking everything and giving nothing.

Nearly 100 nurses attended my first meeting in Armagh, and I was impressed that the questions were mainly on general principles and not on personal issues. At this meeting the St. Luke's Branch was established, and it was clearly indicated that the nurses in Armagh will not be content to have only one branch.

It would be wrong to suggest that this movement is confined to Armagh. Within an hour of landing at Belfast my badge was recognised by a doctor who, on being told I was an organiser, asked me to go with him to a general hospital where, he said, " The nurses have been looking for the Confederation for a long time." A number of Belfast nurses will know that I accepted this offer and anticipate visiting Belfast again in the near future to establish at least one branch there.

The aim of the Armagh Branch is to build up a membership of 4,000 nurses in Northern Ireland. Whether they have set themselves an impossible task remains to be seen but, if there are as many nurses in Northern Ireland, I am convinced we will be welcoming them into membership in the not too distant future, for in Armagh we have a group of people who have recognised that unity is strength and that as every nurse needs the Confederation, so does the Confederation need the support of every nurse.

Good luck Armagh !

COHSE Health Services Journal July 1958
Confederation of Health Service Employees (COHSE)