Plans for a National Maternity Hospital intensified despite religious concerns

The plan to build the new National Maternity Hospital on the campus of St Vincent’s Hospital in Dublin is set to gain momentum in the coming weeks despite ongoing concerns about its religious ethos.

It follows the decision of the Religious Sisters of Charity to transfer ownership of land for the new hospital to a new company, St Vincent’s Holdings CLG, which has charity status.

Sr. Patricia Lenihan, Superior General of the Religious Sisters of Charity, said yesterday: “We will play no part in the future of the new independent charity, St. Vincent’s Healthcare Group, St. Vincent’s Holding CLG or the new National Maternity Hospital.”

St Vincent’s Healthcare Group (SVHG) yesterday confirmed the completion of the legal transfer of the Sisters of Charity’s interest in SVHG to a new company, St Vincent’s Holdings CLG.

Around €51 million has already been spent preparing the site for the new maternity hospital at the St Vincent site, but many have concerns, including former master Dr. Peter Boylan that religious ethos could affect his ability to perform procedures such as abortion.

Under the terms of the agreement, the state will own the building, but St. Vincent’s Healthcare will lease the land on which it is built to the state for 299 years.

The new company, St. Vincent’s Holdings CLG, will provide oversight. The lands belong to St. Vincent’s Healthcare and will remain so.

The Religious Sisters of Charity had an interest in St Vincent’s Healthcare but have now transferred it to St Vincent’s CLG.

The HSE recently gave the green light to the regulatory framework surrounding the hospital.

A memo has to go to the cabinet.

James Menton, Chairman of St Vincent’s Healthcare Group said: “Today is very momentous for St Vincent’s Healthcare Group and the Irish healthcare sector.

“The role of the Sisters in developing modern healthcare for Irish people from all walks of life cannot be underestimated and we sincerely thank them for their commitment, dedication and service.”

dr Boylan has maintained his concerns about the new hospital’s independence, but former master Dr. Rhona Mahony, who is on the board of St Vincent’s Hospital, said yesterday it was scaremongering to suggest there would be any religious influence on the new hospital.

dr Mahony, speaking at a health conference organized by Fianna Fáil,
said she worked on Holles Street.

“I’m a doctor, I’ve advocated for abortion, and I actually offer the service to women,” she said.

“Nothing, nothing in these legal documents, nothing in the agreements, nothing, nothing raises the possibility that this hospital is governed under a Catholic ethos.

“It’s scaremongering.”

dr Mahony said it was “not an outlier” for a doctor to be told they couldn’t offer anything like contraception because of a Catholic ethos.

“There is absolutely no question of a religious ethos, a Catholic ethos, being imposed on this hospital, there is no mechanism by which this could happen,” she said.

“I find it really annoying that Health Secretary Stephen Donnelly told the event there will be no sign-off until clinical independence is guaranteed.” Plans for a National Maternity Hospital intensified despite religious concerns

Fry Electronics Team

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