Many questions still must be answered in relation to the ownership of the new National Maternity Hospital, the approval of which was postponed by Cabinet this week, according to Fine Gael Senator Regina Doherty.
Senator Doherty, Leader of Seanad Éireann, said: “We need answers regarding the legal transfer of the Religious Sisters of Charity’s shareholding to St Vincent’s Holdings CLG, the status of the companies that are now involved in this convoluted process, as well as the overall clinical and operational independence of the hospital at its future site.
“Fundamentally, we also need assurances that all of the women’s healthcare services that are legally available in Ireland will be freely carried out in our new National Maternity Hospital.
“A new National Maternity Hospital needs to be built, but in building it we must bring the women of Ireland with us. There is very understandable distrust amongst the public regarding the influence of the Catholic Church over the delivery of services for women and girls in this country. Therefore, it is in the public interest that all legal documents in relation to the National Maternity Hospital – including the lease, license agreement, and the Constitutions of both St. Vincent’s Healthcare Group and St. Vincent’s Holdings CLG are peer reviewed.
“We need all legal documents to be analysed by legal experts who are independent of the current deal to ensure that the public can be provided with cast iron guarantees as to the independence and provision of services at the new hospital.
“I have written to both Minister Stephen Donnelly and Tánaiste Leo Varadkar expressing my concerns and outlining the need to scrutinise the documents that are now available to us; documents that were not available when I sat around the Cabinet table three years ago.
“The decision by Cabinet to postpone the approval of the hospital was the correct one. Without a thorough review of the legal documents, as well as the correspondence between the stakeholders involved, I do not believe we can provide those assurances. I believe that to proceed with the approval of the hospital without doing so would be a disservice to the women of Ireland”, Senator Doherty concluded.