Green Party TD calls on Cabinet to ‘pause’ decision on NMH move

Case for pushing forward now on basis of current agreement questioned by Hourigan

Green Party TD Neasa Hourigan has called on the Government to "pause" the decision on moving the National Maternity Hospital (NMH) to the St Vincent's Hospital campus.

Ms Hourigan told The Irish Times she is still considering whether or not to back a Sinn Féin motion pushing for the hospital be built on public land.

That motion is to be debated in the Dáil on Tuesday evening after Cabinet decides whether or not to back unchanged proposals on moving the NMH from Holles Street to St Vincent’s.

The Cabinet decision was previously delayed by two weeks and Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly and doctors who support the move have spent the last fortnight seeking to reassure critics that there will be no religious influence in the new NMH and that all procedures allowed by law, including abortion and fertility treatment, will take place at the new hospital.

Ms Hourigan previously resigned as Green Party whip in 2020 after voting against the Government on a piece of housing legislation.

She had her Dáil speaking rights suspended for two months by party leader Eamon Ryan but she remained a member of the Green Party.

In a series of tweets on Monday evening Ms Hourigan outlined her continued concern at the proposals for moving the NMH.

“In the (possibly) closing hours of the debate on the NMH I want to reiterate my heartfelt and genuine concern around the pushing through of this deal and ask that the Cabinet pause this decision for further scrutiny,” she wrote.

She gave a number of reasons arguing that trust “doesn’t exist” about the deal to move the NMH and she has concerns at its “corporate nature”.

“My concerns are as much or more about land value and Sláintecare as Catholicism.”

Ms Hourigan said the decision is being put before Cabinet before the business case has been signed off on.

She also said contentious language in the deal that “clinically appropriate” services will be available at the hospital should be clarified or removed or that “rights-based language” could be added to the documents “to protect those receiving services”.

The Dublin Central TD said the new NMH must be a "centre of excellence for abortion care as this is part and parcel of maternal care for many people".

“Much of the complexity of this deal could be avoided by a more publicly owned and operated hospital model.”

“This is our National Maternity Hospital - it’s worth getting the procurement, governance model and interaction with the private sector right from the get go,” she concluded.