“The only way to ensure that this much needed hospital will be an entirely public and secular hospital is for the State to buy the land from the Religious Sister of Charity and build directly on it.”

Social Democrats co-leader Róisín Shortall TD today urged the Minister for Health to vigorously pursue the State purchase of the site in Elm Park earmarked for the new National Maternity Hospital.

Deputy Shortall was speaking ahead of tomorrow’s rally in Dublin by the Campaign Against Church Ownership of Women’s Healthcare, which is supported by groups including the National Women’s Council of Ireland, the Irish Council for Civil Liberties, the Irish Family Planning Association and several trade unions.

Deputy Shortall said:

“The only way to ensure that this much needed hospital will be an entirely public and secular hospital is for the State to buy the land from the Religious Sister of Charity and build directly on it.

“State purchase of the land – through CPO if necessary – would both protect the public purse and ensure that women have access to all health services provided for under the law of the land, and not canon law. Yet, amazingly, there is no evidence that the Minister for Health has given any consideration whatsoever to this option.

“All we have gotten from the Minister for the past 20 months is a wall of silence and no sign whatsoever that the public interest is being represented at the negotiating table with the two private hospitals involved, Holles Street and St Vincent’s.

Deputy Shortall added:

“It’s been 18 months since the Sisters of Charity announced that they would relinquish ownership of St Vincent’s Healthcare group and form a new charitable company. Yet at this very late stage, a new charitable entity has still not been been created. This poses the troubling question of who exactly the government is dealing with in relation to the ownership and control of the new hospital?

“Once more, the Irish public are being taken for fools while private entities are afforded the time and space to cut deals behind closed doors. It’s entirely inevitable that any arrangement for the new hospital that serves narrow vested interests – either religious or in respect of private medicine and consultants – will be incompatible with the clearly expressed will of the people in this year’s Repeal referendum.”

ENDS

7th December 2018

Deputy Shortall is among the speakers at tomorrow’s rally which takes place at 2p.m. at the Spire on Dublin’s O’Connell Street.