STRIKE OFF!

 Paul Healy & Seamus Duke  The threatened strike by pharmacists, scheduled to start today (Thursday) has been averted. The dramatic eleventh-hour breakthrough in the dispute involving pharmacists and the HSE was welcomed last night (Wednesday) by well-known Roscommon town pharmacist Charlie O’Brien, who was centrally involved in the stand-off earlier this week.    Pharmacists across the country had been threatening to withdraw from the medical card scheme and various community drugs schemes with effect from today (Thursday). Pharmacists claimed that many pharmacists would face closure because of plans by the HSE to reduce their re-imbursments.     The HSE had sought a High Court injunction preventing the pharmacists from proceeding with their industrial action, with Mr. O’Brien being one of nine sample pharmacists (from among 1600 nationwide) against whom the injunction was sought.    That Court action was scheduled to continue today (Thursday) – but a major breakthrough came last night (Wednesday) when the Irish Pharmacy Union announced that an independent body will be set up to examine the issues, including the financial impact on pharmacists.    Mr. O’Brien told the Roscommon People last night (Wednesday): ‘I welcome this breakthrough, we have been looking for an independent body for a long time. We wanted proper discussions as opposed to the HSE acting unilaterally. This is good news, good news for industrial relations