Cabinet signs off on National Maternity Hospital ownership plan

The National Maternity Hospital is currently in a 130-year-old building at Holles Street in Dublin city centre, which has been branded not fit for purpose.
Cabinet signs off on National Maternity Hospital ownership plan

The Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly TD arriving for a cabinet meeting at Dublin Castle this morning. Pic: Gareth Chaney/ Collins Photos

Cabinet has signed off on the ownership structure for the colocation of the new National Maternity Hospital, after weeks of debate around whether the proposal provides enough guarantees to safeguard the medical care of women.

Speaking on his way into Cabinet, Minister for Transport and Green Party leader Eamon Ryan said there had been clarity since Cabinet last considered the proposal for co-location with St Vincent's.

"I think there has been a lot of clarification in the last two weeks, and I think that was a good thing, around that issue [of] what is clinically appropriate," he said.

"It was clear at all times this was led by medics, often the same female medics who led out in the Repeal campaign, saying, 'This is the best approach'.

"So I, like a lot of other people, listened to them."

The National Maternity Hospital is currently in a 130-year-old building at Holles Street in Dublin city centre, which has been branded not fit for purpose.

The Government's plan proposes to co-locate the new National Maternity Hospital at St Vincent's Elm Park campus and to lease the land from St Vincent's for 299 years at 10 euro per year, which the Government argues effectively amounts to ownership.

Concerns have been raised about the possibility of religious ethos interfering in decisions made at the new maternity hospital.

On his way into Cabinet, Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly said it has become clear in the past two weeks that the new National Maternity Hospital will be a voluntary, "fully secular", public hospital.

"The state will own the hospital, the state will own the land for the next 300 years," he said.

There was some opposition to the plans when Mr Donnelly last brought the proposed co-location plan to Cabinet two weeks ago.

Approval was delayed to allow for the publication of documents that outline the ownership structure in order to alleviate concerns.

Mr Donnelly, legal and medical experts, critics of the co-location plan and representatives of the St Vincent's Healthcare Group have also appeared before the Oireachtas Health Committee in the past fortnight to discuss the proposal.

Minister for Tourism Catherine Martin was among the Cabinet ministers who first raised concerns.

On Friday, Ms Martin gave her backing to the plan, saying that after receiving written assurances and clarifications, she now believes "the safeguards and protections are there to protect services for women".

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