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Social Democrats co-leader Róisín Shortall TD today said it would be highly irresponsible for the Minister for Health to allow himself to be strong-armed into signing off on a deal on the new National Maternity Hospital without watertight assurances about its ownership, governance and environmental standards.

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Social Democrats co-leader Róisín Shortall TD today said it would be highly irresponsible for the Minister for Health to allow himself to be strong-armed into signing off on a deal on the new National Maternity Hospital without watertight assurances about its ownership, governance and environmental standards.

Deputy Shortall said:

“After years of delay in getting this vital new hospital project off the ground, we are now suddenly being told that the State must agree to a deal within a matter of weeks. While there is clearly a pressing need for a modern maternity hospital, the Minister must stand firm in the face of pressure from vested interests for the sake of generations of women who will use this hospital for years to come.

“As things stand today, there are still major questions about this whole transaction and I strongly believe that it would be very irresponsible of the Minister to be strong-armed into giving this project the green light before legitimate public concerns are fully taken on board.

Question: Why is the state still planning to gift a publicly funded €350million hospital to a private entity? When public outcry over this issue first emerged some 20 months ago, the Religious Sisters of Charity which owns St Vincent’s Healthcare Group then said they would step back from the project and set up a new company. However we have not seen any details about the ownership and governance of this new company and whether Vatican approval is needed. The burning question remains – why must the people Ireland accept it as inevitable that the State will fund and build a new hospital and then hand it over to a private entity?

Question: Exactly what new safeguards will be put in place to ensure independent clinical governance of the new hospital with a secular ethos? It seems that the corporate governance structure set out in the secret November 2016 Mulvey deal between St Vincent’s and Holles Street remain largely intact. This was the wrong approach then and it remains the wrong approach. If any elements of that plan remain in place, the proposal will fall short of what we need. It’s not at all clear how the addition of one new public interest director to the board of the new hospital will copper-fasten its independence when it comes to the types of procedures it will provide for women for generations to come.

Question: What exact impact will environmental regulation deadlines have in relation to the building of the new hospital? In the past few days there has been an incredible amount of spin about new European regulations around energy efficiency in public buildings which come into force on 1st January 2019. According to ‘sources’ quoted in media reports, these mean the project must be started by December 31st. Surely the right thing to do is to make sure that the new hospital is built to the highest possible energy standards, for the good of our environment as well as patients? Given the country’s poor record on climate change, why should we be willing to accept a building that is environmentally below standard before it is even built?”

ENDS

10th December 2018

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