Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly has said that the Government has received legal advice that there is no guarantee a compulsory purchase order (CPO) of the land earmarked for the new National Maternity Hospital site would be successful.
Speaking to reporters in Dublin, Mr Donnelly said that he had received “clear” advice from the Attorney General that there was “absolutely no guarantee that a CPO would succeed”.
“We would need to show that we need to own the land, I would imagine that St Vincent’s, or indeed the courts would say ‘Well you do own the land for the next 300 years’.
“So there is no guarantee that it would succeed.”
Mr Donnelly also said that the plan to co-locate the National Maternity Hospital (NMH) at a site at St Vincent’s in Dublin is meant to be “a partnership”, and that this partnership may be complicated or abandoned due to legal proceedings required to compulsory purchase the land.
The Minister was speaking after attending an event in Dublin to mark the International Day of the Midwife.
Mary Brosnan, the director of midwifery and nursing in the NMH, told reporters that she wished to reassure the public that she had never seen services limited by religious influence during her career.
Ms Brosnan emphasised the importance of the facilities at the new maternity hospital, which will include 120 single rooms and a corridor that will link the NMH to acute services at St Vincent’s.
“This is a debate that shouldn’t need to be carried on,” Ms Brosnan said.
“It will not be bound by religious influence.
“I think it’s the wrong argument.”
Dr Cliona Murphy, clinical lead for the HSE’s National Women and Infants Health Programme, said that clinicians would not “drop the ball” when the NMH moves to Vincent’s.
“From a clinical perspective and a national perspective, this has to happen.
“Forty per cent of the clinicians working in Holles Street also work in Vincent’s, so the clinical connections are there, and need to be built on, so it’s the physical infrastructure that’s holding this up.”
“People have asked that we own the hospital,” Mr Donnelly said.
“We will own the hospital.
“People have asked that there will be clinical independence, there will be clinical independence.
“All of those very proper requests have been met, and we’ve gone further.
“We’re essentially going to own the land for the next 300 years, and in 300 years’ time if we have to have a conversation about the land, we can have it then.
“There is no link between the land and what happens inside the hospital.
“GP practices are not built on State land, I’ve never heard anyone previously suggest that we should own the land that Holles Street is built on, or that the Coombe is built on, or that the Rotunda is built on.”
Mr Donnelly also added that of the 19 maternity hospitals or units across the country, 11 are providing termination of pregnancy services and eight are not.
“The eight maternity settings that are not providing full abortion services are HSE hospitals, and not voluntary hospitals, Mr Donnelly said.
“In fact, it was the voluntary hospitals that really led the way on this.”
Speaking in the Dail today, Green Party leader and Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan said that the National Maternity Hospital needs to be built.
“Further delay, in my mind, is not the right choice.”