Divide grows between Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael over Maternity Hospital

At a private meeting of the Fine Gael parliamentary party raised serious concerns around a lack of clarity over the proposed governance and ownership of the hospital
Divide grows between Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael over Maternity Hospital

Kenneth Fox

A strong divide has emerged between Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael on the proposed National Maternity Hospital.

As the Irish Examiner reports, Fianna Fáil members have supported Health Minister Stephen Donnelly in pushing ahead with the proposed hospital, claiming that patients and staff have waited long enough for adequate facilities.

However, those at a private meeting of the Fine Gael parliamentary party raised serious concerns around a lack of clarity over the proposed governance and ownership of the hospital.

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said all concerns and questions regarding the planned National Maternity Hospital (NMH) must be listened to and answered with reassurance provided before a final decision is made by Government.

The Fine Gael leader said it is clear in the NMH constitution that all legally permissible procedures, for a maternity hospital, will be permitted and there will be no religious ethos there, and no religious representatives on the board and no religious body in ownership of the site.

However, at the Fianna Fáil parliamentary party meeting, senator Lisa Chambers pointed out that the previous Fine Gael-led Government had sanctioned moving ahead with the project at a time when there were fewer protections and yet ministers were now expressing concern at a deal which she said is "better than what they put together themselves".

She said the public cannot wait another decade for a new hospital and said the support of clinicians such as Rhona Mahony and Shane Higgins was "reassuring".

Taoiseach Micheál Martin told members of his own party that he cannot give a completion date for the new hospital.

Martin said he is "always very cautious when it comes to timelines for hospitals — look at the National Children's Hospital."

Mr Donnelly, who received widespread support at the meeting, said clinicians are very frustrated with the delay. However, when pressed by Niall Collins on why St Vincent's would not give over full ownership, Mr Donnelly said this is not something they would agree to.

More in this section

Sponsored Content

Add Echolive.ie to your home screen - easy access to Cork news, views, sport and more