Cake decorator and baker Kyla Dempsey on her life in food
Cake decorator and baker Kyla Dempsey on her life in food

Sarah Gill

What I learned on a phone-free silent retreat in Clare
What I learned on a phone-free silent retreat in Clare

Mairead Heffron

Bodkin: The Obama-produced crime series set in West Cork
Bodkin: The Obama-produced crime series set in West Cork

Sarah Finnan

From big to small, plant pots to upgrade your favourite leafy housemates
From big to small, plant pots to upgrade your favourite leafy housemates

Megan Burns

This beautiful Georgian residence is on the market for €775,000
This beautiful Georgian residence is on the market for €775,000

Sarah Finnan

Event: Join us for a fun nature hike with Nadia El Ferdaoussi
Event: Join us for a fun nature hike with Nadia El Ferdaoussi

IMAGE

Ask the Doctor: ‘I’ve developed hay fever in adulthood, is it dangerous to rely on antihistamine tablets?’
Ask the Doctor: ‘I’ve developed hay fever in adulthood, is it dangerous to rely on...

Sarah Gill

Women in Sport: Freestyle mogul skier Claire Dooley
Women in Sport: Freestyle mogul skier Claire Dooley

Sarah Gill

School Meals Scheme: Ballymaloe sauces for some children, “beef of unknown origin” for others
School Meals Scheme: Ballymaloe sauces for some children, “beef of unknown origin” for others

Lizzie Gore-Grimes

New season Kardashians and a reality real-estate show – what to watch this week
New season Kardashians and a reality real-estate show – what to watch this week

Sarah Finnan

Image / Agenda / Breaking Stories

Plans for gifting of the National Maternity Hospital to a Vatican-approved company sparks backlash


By Sarah Gill
06th May 2022

Pexels

Plans for gifting of the National Maternity Hospital to a Vatican-approved company sparks backlash

The decision has been delayed for two weeks, during which time government ministers aim to alleviate concerns from both the opposition and the Irish public.

Earlier this week, Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly brought a memo to the cabinet proposing that the State lease the site for the new €1 billion National Maternity Hospital at just €10 per year for 299 years from a Vatican-approved company.

The company in question – the recently established St Vincent’s Holdings CLG – is a non-profit group with charitable status. The site for the new hospital was previously owned by the Religious Sisters of Charity, and the transfer of their shareholdings to this new company required approval from the Vatican.

Essentially, the Department of Health wants the location of the National Maternity Hospital moved from its current Holles Street site in Dublin 2 to Saint Vincent’s Campus in Dublin 4 so that it can be adjacent to the already established treatment facility, thus boosting medical outcomes.

The site itself is valued at €200 million, and the gifting of this property to the State comes with the proviso that the religious order will retain ownership of all but the building’s shell. The new hospital board will be made up of three independent directors selected by the minister, three nominated by St Vincent’s, and three nominated by the National Maternity Hospital.

Instead of signing off on the proposal in cabinet this past Tuesday, opposition leaders and senior ministers have called for further consideration due to valid concerns regarding the governance and potential impact of a religious ethos in the provision of essential services.

Considering Ireland’s fractured history with the Catholic church – in particular its treatment of women and children – plans for a religious charity to take ownership of the country’s foremost maternity hospital have received severe backlash.

While Stephen Donnelly has stated that the new National Maternity Hospital would be completely independent and that all legally permissible services will be provided “where clinically appropriate”, there is a demand for further clarity around what can be deemed “clinically appropriate” and who decides.

Traditionally, other Catholic institutions or those even loosely connected to the church do not provide reproductive services such as abortion, contraception and IVF. Fostering an increasingly polarising debate, arguments that this represents a regressive and worrying step backwards reflect the severe lack of trust and transparency between the Irish government and its people.

Legitimate concerns have prompted a two week delay, during which ministers will address all aspects of the proposal and all legal documents relating to the deal will be published. The Oireachtas Committee on Health is set to hold an extra meeting next week to allow for debate and a greater insight into whether there were particular stipulations under which the Vatican agreed to transfer the land.

The Religious Sisters of Charity was involved in running Magdalene Laundries in Ireland, and was the last of the four orders to close the doors of these institutions. While the new National Maternity Hospital is essential in the provision of modern healthcare, it will need to be clear that no religious ethos is practised within its walls, and that the State holds complete ownership and governance before the deal can be signed off on.