LATEST: Minster says people need to understand what is really going on with National Maternity Hospital

Update 12:25pm:The Government chief whip says some of the comments surrounding the new national maternity hospital are very "misleading".

Regina Doherty has been disputing claims that the Sisters of Charity will own the building on their grounds.

She's admitted she wouldn't be "at peace" with the situation but doesn't think it will ever happen.

Minister Doherty says people need time to understand what is going on.

"Some of the narrative around it is actually very misleading. We're not giving anything to anybody. The campus, the new company will have a lean against the investment of the State.

"It won't actually be owned really by anybody in effect. And that's why it's complex. That's why this needs to be teased out over the next couple of weeks."

Earlier: The Taoiseach Enda Kenny has promised "complete clinical independence" in the running of the new National Maternity Hospital, writes Elaine Loughlin of the Irish Examiner.

It comes as Government continues to come under pressure over the decision to grant the Sisters of Charity ownership of the hospital.

The religious order will own the €300m taxpayer-funded hospital, because the order owns the St Vincent’s Hospital campus on which it is to be built.

Under questioning in the Dáil, Mr Kenny said: "I can confirm that there will be complete clinical independence and that the Sisters of Charity will not have a majority on the board."

Mr Kenny said it is clear that the focus is now on ownership and said that Health Minister Simon Harris has been given a month by Government to "allow space for all parties to discuss further the question of the ownership" of the hospital.

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin said the people were "very taken aback" when it emerged that the ownership of the hospital was to reside in the St. Vincent's Hospital group and the Sisters of Charity and that the State's investment of hundreds of millions would not be reflected in the ownership of the new hospital.

"It is not just a church, State issue; it is also financial and involves corporate interests," Mr Martin said.

"It is about who protects the taxpayer and the taxpayers' investment in a facility such as this and who is negotiating on behalf of the taxpayer.

"Clinical independence is critical but so also is that taxpayers get full recognition and reflection of their investment in any new facility such as this.

"We need far more transparency in relation to this particular deal. The public, private mix, for example, is an important issue that should not go without some degree of scrutiny," Mr Martin said.


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