Call for State to own land on which new national maternity hospital is built

Campaign for non-religious healthcare says only public ownership of the land can guarantee that the healthcare will be secular

Jo Tully, Grace Vaughan and Donna Cooney from the Campaign Against Church Ownership of Women’s Healthcare, with Róisín Shortall TD at a press conference in a Dublin  hotel. Photograph:  Crispin Rodwell

Jo Tully, Grace Vaughan and Donna Cooney from the Campaign Against Church Ownership of Women’s Healthcare, with Róisín Shortall TD at a press conference in a Dublin hotel. Photograph: Crispin Rodwell

 

The State must take ownership of the land on which the new national maternity hospital is to be built to ensure provision of all women’s health services, a coalition campaigning for non-religious healthcare has said.

The Campaign Against Church Ownership of Women’s Healthcare said it was a “disgrace” two Catholic institutions were “still in the driving seat” on the future of the new hospital.

It is a year since Minister for Health Simon Harris promised the facility, to be built on the St Vincent’s hospital campus in Donnybrook, Dublin, would be publicly-owned and run. However, the religious Sisters of Charity, who own the campus, have yet to receive permission from the Vatican to divest the land and lease it to the State.

Marie O’Connor, a campaigner on women’s healthcare, said even this, if successful, would mean a “grossly inadequate” arrangement.

“The State needs to own the land on which it plans to build this hospital. Women’s healthcare is at risk. To expect a hospital [on land] owned by the nuns’ company to provide a full range of healthcare, including contraception, sterilisation, abortion, IVF and so on, is unrealistic.

“Only public ownership of the company can guarantee the healthcare will be secular.”

Róisín Shortall, TD and co-leader of the Social Democrats, said the implications of a 99-year lease remained unknown, adding that the hospital should not be owned by the National Maternity Hospital as it is currently configured given the key role the Archbishop of Dublin has in its governance. While the current Archbishop Diarmuid Martin played no active role, a successor could decide to be active.

Bríd Smith TD (People Before Profit) said every candidate in the forthcoming general election should sign a pledge demanding that the new national maternity hospital be publicly-owned, publicly-run and secular.