Redress owed by Sisters of Charity did not feature in National Maternity Hospital talks

Money owed by the Sisters of Charity to the redress scheme did not feature in discussions to move the National Maternity Hospital to the St Vincent’s Hospital campus, it has emerged.

The former chairman of the Workplace Relations Commission, Kieran Mulvey, who acted as mediator, said the issue of redress was separate to the one with which he had been dealing.

Mr Mulvey said he sympathises with the victims, but that his terms of reference were solely to deal with the relocation of the maternity hospital and to make appropriate arrangements for all concerned.

He said it is imperative that the transfer of the maternity hospital from Holles St to St Vincent’s campus proceeds as early as possible so that a new national maternity hospital could be built there.

Mr Mulvey said the Sisters of Charity owns the land on the campus but has no real active role in hospital governance.

He said matters of redress should be addressed in the established redress forum, adding that the issue around the maternity hospital is a “separate clinical need” for the women of Ireland, and should be allowed to go ahead untarnished.

Mr Mulvey said management and staff at Holles St were concerned the maternity hospital would retain its ethos. “That was recognised very early in the negotiations and agreed. So, in a sense, the day-to-day involvement by the Sisters of Charity in the running of the hospital is zero almost,” he said.

Mr Mulvey, speaking on RTÉ radio, said it would be representatives of St Vincent’s Healthcare Group, not the Sisters of Charity, who would be on the board of the new hospital.

Fianna Fáil TD Billy Kelleher said there is concern that the Sisters of Charity had not complied with the indemnity agreement reached in 2002, but that the national maternity hospital project must not be delayed any further.

He said assurances are needed of the reserve powers and the “golden share” mentioned by Health Minister Simon Harris. Mr Kelleher said he wants it to be made abundantly clear that there would be interference with the new maternity hospital.

Mr Harris said the new maternity hospital would have full clinical, operational, financial, and budgetary independence.

Meanwhile, over 35,000 people have signed a petition, launched on Tuesday, calling for the Sisters of Charity to be prevented from becoming owners of the new national maternity hospital.

Uplift, the group behind the petition, said it is an issue that people are clearly outraged about.

Spokeswoman Emily Duffy said people are deeply troubled by the State’s utter disregard for the many victims of abuse which took place in institutions run by orders such as the Sisters of Charity.

Ms Duffy said it is rare that a petition goes viral so rapidly.

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