Harris insists NMH will be free of religious influence

Updated / Wednesday, 19 Apr 2017 08:15

Simon Harris said the new maternity hospital will be free from any religious or ethnic influence

The new National Maternity Hospital to be built on the St Vincent's Hospital campus in Dublin, will have full clinical, operational, financial and budgetary independence, the Minister for Health has said.

The land on which the new hospital will be built is owned by the St Vincent's Healthcare Group and the Sisters of Charity are a major shareholder in the group, which will own the new hospital.

Simon Harris said it would be free from any religious or ethnic influence and the independence of the hospital will be copperfastened by reserved powers and a golden share held by the Minister for Health of the day.

He said this was part of an agreement reached last November, brokered by Kieran Mulvey, former chairman of the Labour Relations Commission, who acted as a mediator between Holles St and St Vincent's hospitals.

Proceeds from the sale of the current Holles Street Hospital will go toward the cost of the new facility, which was originally put at €150 million but is expected to cost significantly more.

A new company called the National Maternity Hospital at Elm Park will operate the new hospital.

A lien, or charge is also to be placed on the new maternity hospital, in favour of the State, in order to protect the State's interest in the building.

In a statement this evening, Master of the National Maternity Hospital Dr Rhona Mahony said the new maternity hospital will be operated by a new company "with an independent board and will be clinically and operationally entirely independent in line with national maternity hospital".

Dr Mahony said the current facility is not fit for purpose and the "co-location of this hospital with an adult tertiary hospital will revolutionise healthcare in Ireland for women and children.

Social Democrats TD Roisín Shortall said it was highly inappropriate and deeply insensitive to give ownership of the new maternity hospital to the Religious Sisters of Charity.

She said it was wrong for the State to allow a religious congregation, or any private interests, to be the owner of a hospital. 

Labour health spokesperson Alan Kelly said it was wrong to give the Sisters of Charity sole-ownership of the hospital.

Mr Kelly said that given the events of recent weeks, including the failure of religious congregations to meet their share of the cost of redress, it seemed extraordinary to see the State continuing to fund an increase in the asset values of the same congregations.