Video: National Maternity Hospital move, Fine Gael TD exits politics

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National Maternity Hospital move

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.

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.

Labour Party leader Ivana Bacik has meanwhile called for the State to issue a Compulsory Purchase Order for the land on which the new National Maternity Hospital will be built.

Robert Watt answers questions over Holohan

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The secretary-general of the Department of Health has denied that he approved funding for chief medical officer Tony Holohan’s secondment to Trinity College without the go-ahead from Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly.

Robert Watt told the Oireachtas Health Committee on Wednesday morning that details of the proposal for the open-ended secondment still needed to be worked out when he sent a letter to the Dublin university on March 16th.

“There’s no basis upon which I can approve spending for new areas of spending without the approval of the minister – I don’t have that authority,” he said.

Citing the letter to Trinity, Sinn Féin’s David Cullinane and Social Democrat co-leader Róisín Shortall accused Mr Watt of committing the Department to “substantial” multiannual funding worth more than €20 million over a 10-year period without Mr Donnelly’s approval.

Fine Gael TD exits politics

Fine Gael TD and former education minister Joe McHugh has announced he will not contest the next general election.

The Donegal TD served as a minister of state for a number of departments between 2014 and 2017 and was government chief whip from 2017 to 2018 before becoming education minister in October 2018.

He did not feature in Fine Gael leader Leo Varadkar’s team in the current coalition government and in a statement said that the last two years have given him a chance to assess his work and family life.

In a statement following the news, Mr Varadkar thanked Mr McHugh “for his work for successive governments, for Ireland, for Fine Gael and for his constituents.”

Man questioned over Kilkenny assault

Gardaí are questioning a man in his 20s over a fatal stabbing incident in Kilkenny city.

Gardaí attended the scene of the incident on Hebron Road at approximately 12.45pm yesterday afternoon.

The victim, a man in his 40s, was discovered with serious injuries. He was taken to St Luke’s General Hospital, where he later died.

Gardaí arrested another man, aged in his late 20s, at the scene of the assault. He was taken to Kilkenny Garda station where he is currently detained under Section 4 of the Criminal Justice Act, 1984.

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