The government has said it will not oppose our motion. They must go further – and actively support it.

The Tánaiste should immediately clarify remarks he made in which he suggested Holles Street was a Catholic-ethos hospital, according to Social Democrats co-leader Róisín Shortall.

“Leo Varadkar said he worked at the national maternity hospital at Holles Street and never felt “there was a nun or a priest looking over [his] shoulder” when he was treating women. He further said that “some people” were failing to acknowledge that Holles Street is a Catholic-ethos hospital.

“There is a very simple reason that people are not acknowledging this. Mr Varadkar is wrong. Holles Street was never a Catholic-run, or owned, hospital.

“The national maternity hospital in Holles Street was set up by Royal Charter in 1903. That Charter makes no reference to Catholic ethos. This is why services contrary to Catholic ethos – like sterilisation and IVF – are performed.

“Contrary to this, St Vincent’s is most definitely a Catholic-ethos hospital and declines to provide women a full range of medical services – like sterilisation or even contraception – for that reason.

“Therefore, it is hardly alarmist for parties like the Social Democrats – who have always advocated for a separation of church and state in the provision and management of our public services – to raise concerns about the ethos of the proposed new national maternity hospital and its ownership structure.

“The government has said it will not oppose our motion on this issue tomorrow – demanding the new hospital is constructed on land owned by the State and is publicly governed.

“I am calling on Mr Varadkar, and the entire government, to go further. They must actively support it – and act on it.”

22 June, 2021


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