The National Maternity Hospital should be owned by the State, the Taoiseach has said.
The hospital is to be located on the private grounds of St Vincent's Hospital.
It has emerged the State tried to buy the land but failed to do so, with senior government figures, including Tánaiste Leo Varadkar, conceding there are "problems" with the project, which includes a plan for the government to rent the land on a 99-year lease.
Speaking on Friday, Taoiseach Micheál Martin said: “I think a basic requirement is that, in an ideal world, it would be that the taxpayer would own the facility that the taxpayer is investing in right into the future, because it will be very substantial money put in by the taxpayer.
“The State has invested huge monies in hospitals, where it doesn't have ownership, and that's not entirely satisfactory into the future. And so nothing has been signed off."
Plans to move the National Maternity Hospital from Holles Street to the St Vincent’s University Hospital campus have been delayed for years due to issues about ownership and religious ethos. The site is owned by the Religious Sisters of Charity, which plans to gift it to a new body that will run the hospital.
Mr Martin said:
"That's my objective into the future, I think our health system has evolved in a very odd way, to be frank."
He said many of the stakeholders need to reflect that the ultimate objective here is to look after the women of Ireland, and not to become overly obsessive about ownership, not only to the State and historic bodies or trusts.
“It is time for society to move on beyond the era that we've had in relation to ownership issues,” he said.
He said there seems to be just endless negotiations and discussions around who owns what, and, and so on.
“It's no longer tenable. In the modern era, and where the State is putting such huge resources into a particular entity, all of the resources and political entity of the State should own it,” he said.