Two Green Party TDs were among dozens of party members who wrote to their Ministers to "implore" them to stall Cabinet proposals on the future of the National Maternity Hospital.
Dublin Central TD Neasa Hourigan and Dublin South-Central TD Patrick Costello signed the letter, as did Dublin City Cllr Hazel Chu, and at least 15 other councillors, alongside officers from the party's youth wing.
Mr Costello said he added is name to the letter “because we need to stop turning our backs on women” and that there was “proper scrutiny” needed of the terms of the deal by the Oireachtas. “We cannot be bystanders to the handing over of a billion-euro asset from the State to a privately held company,” he said. He added that he was “delighted” Cabinet had paused the decision. “I look forward to the Minister addressing the issues over the coming weeks.”
A copy of the letter was sent to Green Party leader Eamon Ryan and deputy leader Catherine Martin, as well as Minister for Children Roderic O'Gorman. It states that "as voting members of Cabinet we write to implore you to delay the sign off of the proposal of National Maternity Hospital today".
It outlined that many of the signatories have family, friends or constituents who have fought “desperately hard for women’s right to health” in the past number of years.
“There have been concerns raised by members of the board which have not been adequately addressed and confusion on the issue. Many of our own party representatives have publicly asked for the hospital to be State owned and for the various concerns to be addressed.”
The signatories wrote that “in light of so many unanswered questions, the confusion and the fear of women’s rights yet again being eroded that the Cabinet does not sign off on any proposal but rather send it to the health committee for scrutiny”.
Questions over governance
Asked why she had signed the letter, Ms Hourigan replied that she had several outstanding questions over governance and other arrangements at the hospital. She said she was unclear on a range of things and “glad they have taken the time to come to the health committee and answer those questions and there will be some sort of transparency”.
She said the repeal movement and access to abortion care was “at the very centre of political action in the Green Party. Our members feel really strongly about it and have been in contact with me and as health spokesperson it is important that is communicated to Cabinet members”. Ms Hourigan added that until the concerns were allayed, “I suspect that Cabinet [will have] this difficulty in signing off with it. They work on consensus, there has to be trust on consensus, and you build that through transparency.”
Ms Chu said that requests for transparency and answers is not an attempt to delay anything.
“We do of course urgently need best-in-class maternal care, but we also need truly independent care. When you have experts who are on the board and in the fields of fertility and maternal health voicing their concerns, we need to listen. We need to get this right,” she said.