Latest: Varadkar 'sure' Harris will clarify who will own the new national maternity hospital

Update 7.30pm: Dr Rhona Mahony, Master of the National Maternity Hospital, has released a statement.

    "The new National Maternity Hospital to be built on the St Vincent's Healthcare campus will be dedicated solely to providing maternity care for women and infants. It will be operated by a new company with an independent board and will be clinically and operationally entirely independent in line with national maternity policy.

    "Over 9,000 infants are born at NMH every year. The current facility is not fit for purpose. The co-location of this hospital with an adult tertiary hospital will revolutionise healthcare in Ireland for women and infants and we continue to work with SVHG to make a dedicated state of the art maternity hospital a reality as urgently as possible."

Update 6pm: The Social Protection Minister says he thinks it's important that the issue of ownership of the new national maternity hospital is clarified.

Leo Varadkar says he is sure the Health Minister will clarify who will own the property.

"An arrangement on governance so that Holles Street could move from Holles Street to the campus of St Vincents and the land there is owned by The Sisters of Charity.

"I guess it was anticipated that they would continue to own their own land but perhaps that the building would belong to the Board of Holles Street but of course the decision now has been made not to have a Board of Holles Street but to merge the two boards.

"I'm not sure exactly what the decision is there or what the plan is but I think it's important that it is clarified but I'm sure Simon Harris will do that," he said.

UPDATE 2.35pm: The Health Minister, Simon Harris, has said there won’t be any religious influence on the governance of the new national maternity hospital.

The land on which the hospital will be built is owned by The Sisters of Charity.

However Minister Simon Harris says the hospital will have full clinical, operational, financial and budgetary independence.

His comments come after after opposition parties claimed there could be a conflict of interest between medical decisions and Catholic principles.

Update 12.35pm: The Workers’ Party has condemned the decision to grant sole ownership of the new National Maternity Hospital to the Sisters of Charity, saying it presents a ‘nightmare scenario’ for women.

The Sisters of Charity are to take charge of the new €300m facility. However, the religious group, one of the four congregations which managed Magdalene laundries, has failed to pay its share of funds to a redress scheme for the victims of institutional abuse.

“The decision to grant ownership of the National Maternity Hospital makes a mockery of the supposed neutrality of the Citizens’ Assembly,” said Workers’ Party Cllr. Éilis Ryan.

“Do any of us really believe that, if and when the 8th amendment of our constitution is repealed, any new legislation for abortion will be implemented fully in a hospital wholly owned by the Catholic Church?

"Every week another story emerges of the extraordinary harm done to women by the church, with State complicity, in this country. What good is it to agree, finally, to remove archaic, church-written clauses from our constitution, if we hand over women’s healthcare to that same church?”

The Workers’ Party Councillor called for a full review of church involvement in healthcare.

“Maternity care gets to the root of how we value women in this country, and historically has been where women have been worst treated by our State,” she said.

“It’s time for us to change that record.”

Update 12.35pm: The Workers’ Party has condemned the decision to grant sole ownership of the new National Maternity Hospital to the Sisters of Charity, saying it presents a ‘nightmare scenario’ for women.

The Sisters of Charity are to take charge of the new €300m facility. However, the religious group, one of the four congregations which managed Magdalene laundries, has failed to pay its share of funds to a redress scheme for the victims of institutional abuse.

“The decision to grant ownership of the National Maternity Hospital makes a mockery of the supposed neutrality of the Citizens’ Assembly,” said Workers’ Party Cllr. Éilis Ryan.

“Do any of us really believe that, if and when the 8th amendment of our constitution is repealed, any new legislation for abortion will be implemented fully in a hospital wholly owned by the Catholic Church?

"Every week another story emerges of the extraordinary harm done to women by the church, with State complicity, in this country. What good is it to agree, finally, to remove archaic, church-written clauses from our constitution, if we hand over women’s healthcare to that same church?”

The Workers’ Party Councillor called for a full review of church involvement in healthcare.

“Maternity care gets to the root of how we value women in this country, and historically has been where women have been worst treated by our State,” he said.

“It’s time for us to change that record.”

Earlier:

Concerns are today being raised about the ownership of the new national maternity hospital.

The Sisters of Charity are to take charge of the €300m facility, which will be built on a site at Elm Park in Dublin next to the existing St Vincent’s Hospital.

However, the religious group, which is one of the four congregations which managed Magdalene laundries, has so far failed to pay its share of funds to a redress scheme for the victims of institutional abuse.

Solidarity TD Mick Barry said that putting nuns in charge could lead to a conflict of interest in medical matters.

"Well we saw what happened in the Savita Halappanavar case in Galway, and I think that issues of that kind can be posed again," he said.

"And I think that we should have a situation where a maternity hospital is wholly owned and controlled by the State, and certainly not by a religious institution."

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