National Maternity Hospital: People 'are owed more respect than to be told by press release'

National Maternity Hospital: People 'are owed more respect than to be told by press release'

Mr Donnelly said he did not think setting out conditions in press releases, was "helpful". File picture: Collins

The Sisters of Charity have agreed to meet Stephen Donnelly to discuss the National Maternity Hospital.

The Health Minister confirmed on radio this morning that despite a statement last night in which the SVHG said it would not sell the land to the state, a meeting between the state and the religious order has been agreed.

Mr Donnelly said he did not think setting out conditions in press releases, was "helpful".

"The people of Ireland fund St Vincent's. I think the given that the people of Ireland are owed more respect than to be told by press release by St Vincent's what is and is not going to happen," he said on Wednesday.

"The government's position is the people of Ireland, or the women of Ireland, wants to own the land that their own maternity hospital is built on.

I would very much like to see that facilitated and I think it would be in everyone's interest if that was.

"I think they should be cognisant and have a bit more respect for the people of Ireland who fund their hospital, I don't think that's the way to do business. These conversations need to be held and they need to be held respectfully," he told RTÉ's Morning Ireland. 

Despite a tweet referencing Compulsory Purchase Orders from Junior Minister Anne Rabbitte, Mr Donnelly says a CPO is not a route he wants to take, rather a "collaboration" between the state and St Vincent's.

Public ownership

Roisin Shortall, who has tabled a bill in the Dáil this week calling for 100% public ownership, says the claims made by the Sisters of Charity, don't "stand up to any kind of scrutiny."

"There's no reason why a separate state-owned hospital could not operate on the campus of St Vincent's providing the site was actually disposed of to the state," the Social Democrat co-leader said.

"Last year, the Sisters of Charity, said that they were gifting, the site, to the people of Ireland, they weren't doing that, there were gifting it to their own holding company.

"We have to bear in mind that the Sisters of Charity, in spite of what they've said over recent years, they still are the sole shareholder of St Vincents so they haven't transferred their interest.

"This is a massive investment, €800m, the only way of protecting that investment is to ensure that the site is owned by the state.

"And the other thing is that in this day and age, in relation to governance of our health facilities this government-owned that company should be owned by the state, and there should be a state Board running the hospital."

Ms Shortall added that the maternity hospital company will become a wholly-owned subsidiary of St Vincents, meaning a very small holding company at the top and no independent governance.

I think the government should play hardball in relation to this," she said.

Ms Shortall said if the site cannot be state-owned then the government should move the site to another hospital, with Tallaght being suggested.

"It would be unforgivable, to go ahead with a hospital that had a religious involvement particularly maternity hospital, but also that there was no protection whatsoever for a very substantial state involvement."

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