Calls for Taoiseach to request Vatican correspondence over National Maternity Hospital

ireland
Calls For Taoiseach To Request Vatican Correspondence Over National Maternity Hospital Calls For Taoiseach To Request Vatican Correspondence Over National Maternity Hospital
The former master of the Coombe Maternity Hospital said it was 'unbelievable' that plans for the new hospital could go ahead when correspondence between the Vatican, the Papal Nuncio and the Bishop had not been released. Photo: PA Images
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Vivienne Clarke

Updated: 10.45am

A former master of the Coombe Maternity Hospital, Dr Chris Fitzpatrick has called on Taoiseach Micheál Martin to request the disclosure of documents between the Vatican and the religious order that owns the site of the proposed new National Maternity Hospital.

Dr Fitzpatrick told RTÉ Radio’s Morning Ireland that the problem was “trust and transparency” but that the issue had become bogged down on technicalities.

His comments come as representatives from the St Vincent's Group are due to appear before the Oireachtas Health Committee on Monday morning ahead of the matter being put to the Cabinet once again on Tuesday.

Dr Fitzpatrick said he did not trust the “convoluted” governance planned for the new hospital and was also concerned that clinicians would not have the independence they needed to provide all services.

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It was “unbelievable” that the Cabinet was poised to invest €1 billion of taxpayers' money in the hospital when correspondence between the Vatican, the Papal Nuncio and the Bishop had not been released.

He added this was especially concerning considering the history of the religious order with women’s health.

There was an obligation on the Government to review the documents and make them available to the public, Dr Fitzpatrick said, adding he was surprised that the Government or the Attorney General had not received these documents.

The way to dispel all concerns would be to disclose the documents, he said, asking if there were no problems then why were they not being released.

Dr Fitzpatrick said he did not have an anti-Catholic agenda and was not “stoking up fears”, adding the way to allay fears was to make the documents available

“There is no excuse for withholding them,” he said.

The Government should enter negotiations with the religious order to make the site available to the State through purchase or a gift, he added.

Amendment

Meanwhile, the legal adviser to the National Maternity Hospital Alice Murphy has said she has not received any instructions about a codicil or amendment to the constitution of the new hospital.

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Ms Murphy, a partner at the firm of Mason, Hayes and Curran, told RTÉ Radio’s Today with Claire Byrne show that such a legal change could happen quite quickly if all three parties involved were open to change.

However, Ms Murphy said she was not aware of any plans for a change to the legal documents.

She acknowledged the expression “clinically appropriate” had caused a lot of worry, but pointed out that within the entire clause of the constitution all services must be provided.

“I don’t think a codicil is needed," Ms Murphy said.

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