Details of National Maternity Hospital deal need to be more clearly defined, solicitor says

Government Ministers have delayed signing off building the facility on land leased from a charitable trust, which was given the property by the Religious Sisters of Charity.
Details of National Maternity Hospital deal need to be more clearly defined, solicitor says

Details of the proposed deal around the new National Maternity Hospital need to be more clearly defined, a solicitor has said.

It comes after Government Ministers delayed signing off building the facility on land leased from a charitable trust, which was given the property by the Religious Sisters of Charity.

Concerns from campaigners and opposition politicians have been raised over the phrase 'clinically appropriate' which features in the hospital's proposed constitution.

There are fears that some services, such as terminations, will be restricted or unavailable at the hospital.

Speaking to Newstalk, Simon McGarr of McGarr Solicitors said more clarity around these issues is needed before any deal is signed.

"It's already defined that they can only provide the services in a maternity hospital, but also, leaving that aside it doesn't really matter what's intended by one or other of the parities right now, but rather how that is interpreted in the future," Mr McGarr said.

"Three hundred years is a long time to decide that this will be the governing role... if it's straightforward why is it not defined?"

In 2013, it was announced that the hospital, which is expected to cost up to €1 billion, was to be relocated to the new controversial site.

Concerns over religious interference

According to an opinion poll by The Sunday Independent/Ireland Thinks, 60 per cent of people are not satisfied with the plans for the hospital.

Some 45 per cent of people think there would be religious interference in medical services, while 41 per cent think there would be no interference.

Commenting on the concerns of religious interference with services, People Before Profit TD Brid Smith said there needs to be full State ownership of the hospital.

"We've always called for the separation of church and State, that you can't have the interference of one into the other, it has to be very clear," Ms Smith told Newstalk.

"And here's an opportunity for the first time in 100 years for the State to make that break and to say absolutely this hospital has to be 100 per cent fully owned and controlled by the State for the women and girls of Ireland."

Ms Smith said a number of questions will be asked of the Minster for Health over the deal.

"I think there'll be a lot of questions about the nature of the lease and I think there will be questions about the outstanding documents and maps and things that we haven't seen.

"What uses will be made of different parts of the hospital?

"But also in relation to the lease, 299 which Micheál Martin repeatedly told us is so obviously ownership by another name.

" [Then] we find out later on that there is six conditions attached to that lease."

Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly is due to appear before the Oireachtas Health Committee on Wednesday and the Dáil on Thursday over the controversy.

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