Disposal of St Vincent’s property a matter for nuns and Rome – Archbishop

Diarmuid Martin says he has no role under canon law regarding hospital property

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin: “I wouldn’t be asked to give my opinion, the decision is between them and the Holy See.” Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill / The Irish Times

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin: “I wouldn’t be asked to give my opinion, the decision is between them and the Holy See.” Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill / The Irish Times

 

Catholic Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin has said that he has no role under canon law where disposal of property at the St Vincent’s hospital campus in Dublin by the Sisters of Charity was concerned.

He also told The Irish Times on Monday he believed “the current management of the hospital is not a church organisation as such”.

On disposal of the hospital by the Sisters of Charity, he said, “the responsibility of addressing the religious and canonical aspects are fundamentally theirs. If they have to alienate property [transfer ownership of property rights to another person or group] they have to approach the Holy See, but it’s up to them to do that. I would be asked to give my opinion, the decision is between them and the Holy See.”*

He added: “I feel that the current ownership of the hospital is now in hands which are not religious.”

On the same subject, a spokeswoman for the St Vincent’s Hospital Group said, “Just to be clear, since 2002 when the company was formed, the land and property at Elm Park has been registered to St Vincent’s Healthcare Group. As an Irish company St Vincent’s Healthcare Group DAC is governed by Irish company law, not canon law.”

She also pointed out that “the Religious Sisters of Charity resigned from the board in 2017, when they announced their decision to end their involvement in St Vincent’s Healthcare Group and relinquish their shareholding in the Group. They also stated at that time (May 2017) that they would have no involvement in the new national maternity hospital.”

As of last night there was no response from the Sisters of Charity to questions on this matter.

Archbishop Martin is chairman of the National Maternity Hospital (NMH) board at Holles Street but has not attended since becoming Archbishop in 2004.

He recalled writing over 11 years ago to then health minister Mary Harney to tell her he did not wish to continue as chair. “I said, at that stage, that the structure of the board was an anachronism of history,” he recalled.

Speaking on the subject in May of last year he said the NMH was “not a Catholic hospital and I see nobody asking that the new National Maternity Hospital should be a Catholic hospital. It doesn’t mean that Catholic teaching is irrelevant but that is the reality of today.”

The new board “should reflect the skills that are necessary to provide a top class maternity hospital for women and children, and fathers as well,” he said.

Though also believing “in having hospitals with a voluntary component in their management” he could not see the founders of the Sisters of Charity or the Sisters of Mercy wanting to be chief executives of big hospitals. They would want to be “where people needed urgent care, particularly of the poor”, he said.

*This article was amended on December 11th