Rotunda master role runners-up express dismay at choice of male

Two unsuccessful female candidates voice disappointment as Prof Seán Daly selected

The selection of a male obstetrician as the new master of the Rotunda hospital has prompted public expressions of disappointment from the two unsuccessful female candidates.

Prof Seán Daly is set to become the master – effectively the chief executive – of the oldest maternity hospital in the world, following interviews conducted last Friday.

His appointment is expected to be ratified by the hospital’s board next month.

A former master of the Coombe Women’s Hospital, Prof Daly (59) will be the first person to have led two of Dublin’s maternity hospitals. The Rotunda will remain the only maternity hospital in the capital not to have had a woman master.

Prof Daly is an expert in prenatal diagnosis, diabetes, twins and preterm birth and teaches at Trinity College Dublin.

Interview panel

Nine out of the 12 members of the interview panel were men, according to informed sources.

The interview panel included the outgoing master, Prof Fergal Malone, along with two previous masters and a representative of the Royal College of Obstetricians in the UK.

Prof Malone and Prof Daly are directors of the Irish Maternal Fetal Foundation Ltd, a private company providing "a complete antenatal service to women up to three months post-natal", according to documents lodged in the Companies Office. They work along with other consultants in the Evie Clinic in the Beacon Hospital in Sandyford providing private antenatal care to women.

Prof Malone told staff on Friday that Prof Daly is the master designate for 2023-2029, subject to formal board ratification and standard approval processes.

Tweeted hashtags

The two unsuccessful candidates expressed their disappointment on social media.

Prof Jennifer Donnelly tweeted that she was honoured to interview but was disappointed not to have been successful. She included a number of hashtags in her tweet, including #womeninleadership and #inclusivity.

"Meet your sister!" Prof Maeve Eogan, the other unsuccessful candidate, tweeted in reply. "Really disappointed not to be the 40th Master of this wonderful institution. But nothing ventured, nothing gained."

Contacted by The Irish Times, Prof Donnelly and Prof Eogan declined to comment, saying they were awaiting feedback from the hospital’s HR department.

“I was naturally very disappointed that after 277 years, we still haven’t had a female master in the Rotunda,” Prof Donnelly said.