Labour Party leader Ivana Bacik has called for the State to issue a Compulsory Purchase Order for the land on which the new National Maternity Hospital will be built.
The reality was that the public hospital would be built on private land, she told RTÉ radio’s Morning Ireland.
Under the current agreement ownership of the land was not vested in the State, she said. Why had the land not been handed over to the State? Why had the State not retained ownership of the land despite concerns raised by two members of the HSE board, she asked.
The documents released by the Minister for Health had raised concerns, especially two clauses which referred to provision of services that were "clinically appropriate” and legally permitted. “Why is that phrase there?" asked Ms Bacik.
There should be clarity on the Minister’s “golden share” and the necessity for it in the agreement (if services are not being provided the Minister can intervene). “Why can’t there be a CPO to transfer the land to public ownership?”
We have to move in the right direction.
Ms Bacik said she wanted to see the hospital built, but “in the right way”. She did not want to see a rollback of services as was happening in the US.
“We have to move in the right direction.”
Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly has explained that the decision to defer the final approval of plans for the new National Maternity Hospital was out of respect for the Oireachtas Committee and in an attempt to be open and transparent.
Speaking on RTÉ radio’s Morning Ireland, Mr Donnelly said that the Oireachtas Committee on Health had asked for the details of the agreement before it was signed, which he was doing.
The Minister said it was not wrong for Ministerial colleagues to express concern given the uneasy history of women’s reproductive health and the Church. However, he cautioned “we can’t lose sight of how important this is”.
The new National Maternity Hospital had been in the pipeline for nine years, in the meantime women in Holles Street hospital were in 14 bed wards and had to queue for toilets and bathrooms while in labour, he said.
Sinn Féin health spokesman David Cullinane backed the Cabinet decision.
He tweeted: “The decision by cabinet to cease making a decision on the National Maternity Hospital is the right one.
“All publications & materials relevant to the legal framework need to be published.
“I look forward to scrutiny of the proposals at Health Committee. We must get this right.”