Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly has warned that moving the new National Maternity Hospital or using a Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) to buy the site from the St Vincent’s Group would add 10-15 years to the project.
“We’ve been talking about this long enough,” the Minister told RTÉ radio’s News at One.
Mr Donnelly said he expected Cabinet approval next week for the co-location of the new maternity hospital at the St Vincent’s site.
The existing national maternity hospital at Holles Street was not fit for purpose, he said, adding that in some cases very ill women had to be transported by ambulance to St Vincent’s for urgent treatment.
The reason for the deferral of Cabinet approval had been to allow time for public engagement, given the history of church involvement in healthcare.
The new hospital, under its own constitution, “must” provide all legally permissible services, he added.
Although he acknowledged the Government would prefer to own the land, he said St Vincent's Group had offered to offer the land to the State for 300 years in the understanding it would be used for public healthcare.
Mr Donnelly said to acquire the land with a CPO would add years to the project and the State would have to demonstrate in court that it needed to own the land.
“That would take too damn long,” he said.
Mr Donnelly added that under the constitution, the new hospital would be clinically independent and the wording included was to protect the hospital and allow it to provide “all legally permissible services”.
Earlier, Taoiseach Micheál Martin said concerns about the ownership of the new hospital have been “comprehensively addressed”, telling RTÉ Radio’s Morning Ireland that in his view, the current national maternity hospital was not fit for purpose and that plans for the new hospital were a significant advance.