Health Secretary Stephen Donnelly said that despite ongoing concerns there will be no religious influence on the new National Maternity Hospital (NMH) on the proposed St Vincent campus.
r Donnelly said that “there is no De Vinci code going on here,” and whatever arrangements have been made between the Sisters of Charity and the Vatican, the NMH will be a secular entity.
He said that “the state will own the building” and at the end of the proposed 299-year lease the land and everything on it will revert to the landowner – St Vincent’s Hospital Healthcare Group.
However, he said as modern hospitals have a “useful life” of 40 to 50 years, land ownership will not be an issue as in 300 years the building will be “long gone”.
“[St] Vincents made this very clear, not only were no preconditions asked or demanded, they said there was no approach, there was never a conversation. Not only that, they have said as a secular organization such talks are not being held and there is no mechanism for religious influence,” he told Newstalk hard shoulder Program.
“A lot of people across the country have been telling me that, they’ve been saying can you guarantee us that this is really independent, it’s really autonomous, it’s going to provide all the services and there’s no back door, there’s no De Vinci code going on here . I can give absolute guarantees, but not only can I give the guarantees, St. Vincent gave the guarantees, NMH gave the guarantees.”
Mr Donnelly said those assurances had been given by midwives and doctors working at Holles Street hospital who would only give guarantees “if their independence were protected”.
He said people are asking “the right questions” but the 299-year lease “does what it needs to do” and that NMH’s constitutional independence has been secured by several clauses, including the “golden stock” that it allow the Minister of Health to intervene if all clinical services are not provided.
Mr Donnelly said Ireland has a “bad history” when it comes to women’s health care and the church and he agrees “heartily” that the NMH should not have any religious influence and that that is “assured”.
He said the St. Vincent hospital campus has many different local healthcare providers and that the St. Vincent group chose to keep the land rather than donate it to the state because “their view” was that a single owner could manage the site more efficiently.
He added that he would prefer the state to own the site, but CPO is not a viable option as it has the potential to further delay long-awaited development.
“It’s something I’ve looked at, it’s something I’ve sought legal advice on,” he said.
“There would be no guarantee that we would succeed. Of course, we would have to prove that there is a reason for us to own the land… Secondly, there is a possibility that this will add years to the project. We’ve been talking about this project for nine years, we’ve had planning permission for five years, the Mulvey Agreement was signed by Simon Harris six years ago.
“We have to stop talking years and years and years about this and go ahead and build the hospital. The other thing that is quite possible if we proceeded with a CPO is that one or more of the parties would say that this is not what it should be… We could be faced with starting over, not necessarily manage to achieve co-location, but I think we add 10 to 15 years to this project.”
https://www.independent.ie/news/theres-no-da-vinci-code-going-on-here-stephen-donnelly-guarantees-nmh-will-have-no-religious-influence-41631840.html “There’s no Da Vinci Code here” – Stephen Donnelly “guarantees” that NMH will have no religious influence