Magdalene survivors 'shocked and angered' after Government grants National Maternity Hospital to religious order

The Government is being accused of showing a total disconnect with Irish women in handing ownership of the new National Maternity Hospital to the Sisters of Charity.

A demonstration will take place outside the Department of Health in Dublin this lunchtime.

An 'Uplift' petition has already attracted tens of thousands of signatures in a bid to block the move.

Organisers say they have a clear message for the Minister for Health, that Ireland wants well-funded, State-run public services, that are not owned by the church, big corporations, or anyone else.

Survivors of the Magdalene Laundries say they are "shocked and angered" at the decision to hand over ownership of the new National Maternity Hospital to the religious order as part of a deal for the land at the site.

Millions of euro are still owed by the church in compensation to victims of institutional abuse.

Opposition parties have claimed there could be a conflict between medical decisions, the possibility of new abortion legislation, and the new owners' Catholic values.

Former WRC chairman, Kieran Mulvey, who brokered the deal, says the funds owed by the order is a seperate issue - and Health Minister Simon Harris says the Sisters of Charity won't have any religious influence in the new hospital.

But Councillor Éilis Ryan from the Workers Party, which is organising today's demonstration, says the Government have 'widely' missed the mark.

"Thousands are interested in coming along to this demonstration, more demonstrations are organised for the weekend, and it's very much, I think, the straw that broke the camel's back," she said.

The demonstration is taking place outside the Department of Health, at Hawkins House, in Dublin city centre at 1pm today, with others being organised around the country.

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