'No religious influence' on new National Maternity Hospital, site owner insists

ireland
'No Religious Influence' On New National Maternity Hospital, Site Owner Insists 'No Religious Influence' On New National Maternity Hospital, Site Owner Insists
A general view of St Vincents University Hospital in South Dublin. Photo: PA Images.
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The St Vincent’s Healthcare Group (SVHG) has said it must retain ownership of the site that the new National Maternity Hospital will be built on, adding that there will be “no religious or Vatican influence” on the hospital.

It comes after the Government said it wants to buy the land that the new hospital will be located on from the SVHG and the Religious Sisters of Charity, amid concerns about ownership and religious ethos.

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar admitted there were concerns in Government that the new hospital will not be on State-owned land and will instead be the subject of a 99 year lease with the option for an extension.

Campaigners have also raised concerns about the governance structures and what they fear is a possible religious influence arising from those arrangements.

'Clinically independent'

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In a statement on Tuesday, the board of SVHG said the new hospital will be “clinically independent” and added it must retain ownership of the site “for the delivery of integrated patient care on the Elm Park Campus.”

“We are aware of renewed public controversy since last Thursday and a planned Dáil debate tomorrow. This hospital is long overdue and we are more than willing to meet with the government, should it wish to engage with us,” the statement said.

The group board stated “for the avoidance of doubt” that the “new National Maternity Hospital will be clinically independent.”

“There will be no religious or Vatican influence,” the statement continued.

“All medical procedures, in accordance with the laws of the land, are available in SVHG hospitals, including pregnancy termination, tubal ligation and gender reassignment procedures.

“The State’s interests are protected through the Minister of Health’s ‘Golden Share’, detailed legal agreements and HSE service level agreements.”

Ownership issue

It comes as Opposition parties have called for the Government to consider a compulsory purchase order to buy the land the hospital will be built on.

Speaking in the Dáil today, Taoiseach Micheál Martin said no religious ethos will have any influence over the new National Maternity Hospital.

“There will be no influence by any religious ethos, and particularly the Catholic Church or the Sisters of Charity will have no influence – good bad or indifferent –  whatsoever in terms of this national maternity hospital, they’re very clear about that,” he said.

Mr Martin added: “There is an ownership issue though, I would put forward.”

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