Government to disregard calls to delay National Maternity Hospital deal

ireland
Government To Disregard Calls To Delay National Maternity Hospital Deal Government To Disregard Calls To Delay National Maternity Hospital Deal
The Oireachtas Health Committee has written to Health Minister Stephen Donnelly urging him to put off next week's Cabinet decision on the controversial project to allow members time to hear from a wider range of legal and medical experts. Gareth Chaney/ Collins Photos
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Kenneth Fox

The Government is set to defy calls from a leading Dáil committee to delay the Cabinet decision to approve the National Maternity Hospital's move to St Vincent's Hospital.

As the Irish Examiner reports, the Oireachtas Health Committee has written to Health Minister Stephen Donnelly urging him to put off next week's Cabinet decision on the controversial project to allow members time to hear from a wider range of legal and medical experts.

Committee members held a private meeting after hearing from the minister and a number of medical and legal experts yesterday afternoon and agreed they now need "some extra time" to fully examine issues around ownership and governance which have been raised as concerns.

In the letter sent to the minister yesterday evening, committee chair Seán Crowe asked that members be given "further time to scrutinise" remaining questions and concerns around the proposed relocation of Holles St to the St Vincent's site at Elm Park.

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He said the committee "believes that further time is necessary to hear from a broader range of stakeholders and voices on the issue."

The letter then requested that a Cabinet decision, which is expected to be made next Tuesday, be put off in light of the "serious concerns raised by members of the public, legal experts and clinicians."

However, Government sources last night indicated that ministers will not defer the sign-off on the NMH and it will be brought to Cabinet as intended next week.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin told a meeting of the Fianna Fáil party that his clear legal advice is that the State will have “effective ownership” of the site upon which the National Maternity Hospital will be built.

Suggesting strongly that the deal will proceed despite fresh calls to delay, Mr Martin said no matter what concessions are achieved, a small number of people will always be opposed to the move to St Vincent’s Hospital.

Mr Martin said this leasehold deal represents a situation whereby the State will control the building and the land for the next 300 years.

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