“It’s intolerable that more than two years since the initial public outcry over the Minister’s handling of the National Maternity Hospital, we are still in the dark.”

Social Democrats co-leader Róisín Shortall TD today challenged the Minister for Health over the six-month delay in publishing the promised legal framework to guarantee full public ownership and clinical independence of the new National Maternity Hospital

Speaking in the Dáil during a Fianna Fail private members’ motion on maternity services, Deputy Shortall said:

“It’s been six months since the Minister for Health offered steadfast assurances that the investment of the State in the hospital would be protected and its clinical and operational independence guaranteed.

“Last December, in an eve of Christmas announcement, the Minister approved the contract for the first phase of construction at the hospital site to proceed.

“He told us then that agreement in principle had been reached with St Vincent’s Healthcare Group to allow the State to retain ownership of the new facility through a 99-year lease. We were also informed that a ‘suite of legal documents’ to give effect to this agreement would be finalised in the new year.

“We are now half-way though that year and we are still none the wiser as to the legal arrangements for the ownership and control of this hospital which the state is funding to the tune of at least €350m.

“The Minister has repeatedly said he is confident that the new hospital will be clinically and operationally independent. But it would be naïve to take this on face value until we see full legal details about the new company which will run the hospital.

“It’s intolerable that more than two years since the initial public outcry over the Minister’s handling of the hospital, we are still in the dark. Just this week, the Minister once again failed to provide any updates in a reply to a recent parliamentary question which I tabled.”

ENDS

19th June 2019