Reports that the Minister for Health tried to exempt the National Maternity Hospital from spending rules for large capital projects are deeply alarming, according to Social Democrats co-leader Róisín Shortall.

“Concerns over the National Maternity Hospital are now mounting on two fronts: 1) the ownership and ethos of the new hospital, and 2) the Minister’s recent move to circumvent rules on spending.

“Spending rules are in place to ensure major capital projects are planned properly and to prevent large overspends – like the one we have seen with the children’s hospital, where costs have spiralled to in excess of €1.4 billion. Minister Stephen Donnelly appears to want to throw caution to the wind and disregard spending rules, when it comes to the National Maternity Hospital, which would prevent a repeat of this shambles.

“As regards ownership and ethos, a cross-party group on the new national maternity hospital wrote to the Minister in April to ask for a meeting to discuss their serious concerns, but their request has so far been ignored.

“This group came together, across the political divide, to advocate for a maternity hospital under full public ownership and free of private interests or religious control.

“The Minister has his blinkers on as to what is contained in this deal. Why is he so set on forcing it through at all costs?

“Under the current arrangement, the National Maternity Hospital will be located on land owned by St Vincent’s Holdings, the private successor to the Sisters of Charity with the same religious values included in its constitution.

“This puts women’s healthcare in serious jeopardy, and it means the taxpayer will be funding the building of a hospital on land which is ultimately owned by a private entity operating under religious ethos. This is in direct contradiction to the aims of Sláintecare, which recommends that all public healthcare facilities would be in public ownership.

10 May, 2021


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