Rotunda distances itself from launch of Together for Yes

Decision of pro-repeal umbrella group to begin campaign at hospital is criticised

The Pillar Room is located in the grounds of the Rotunda Hospital and is adjacent to the Gate Theatre.

The Pillar Room is located in the grounds of the Rotunda Hospital and is adjacent to the Gate Theatre.

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The Rotunda Hospital has distanced itself from the launch of the pro-repeal Together for Yes campaign at the hospital’s Pillar Room on Thursday, insisting it “does not support any political organisation or agenda”.

The launch of Together for Yes, an umbrella group advocating a Yes vote in the upcoming referendum to repeal the Eighth Amendment, is to take place on Thursday at 10.30am in the Pillar Room of the Rotunda Hospital on Parnell Square in Dublin.

Together for Yes co-director Orla O’Connor said the group’s “single aim” was repeal of the amendment “so that women in Ireland receive the care they need in their own country”.

Pro Life Campaign spokeswoman Dr Ruth Cullen described as “crass and insensitive” the decision of the group to launch its campaign at the Rotunda, which describes itself as one of the busiest maternity hospitals in Europe.

The Pillar Room is located in the grounds of the hospital and is adjacent to the Gate Theatre.

“In my view, it is a crass and insensitive move to launch a campaign in support of ending human life, next to a maternity hospital where mothers and babies are being cared for,” said Dr Cullen.

Separate foundation

Responding to queries from The Irish Times, a spokesman for the Rotunda Hospital said the room was managed by a foundation that was entirely separate from the hospital. “The Pillar Room is fully operated and managed by the Rotunda Foundation, ” he said.

“The Rotunda Foundation is completely independent of the Rotunda Hospital with its own separate board and executive.

“The Rotunda Hospital has no influence or control over the operation of the Pillar Room. The Rotunda Hospital wishes to make it clear that it does not support any political organisation or agenda.”

The Rotunda Foundation, formerly known as the Friends of the Rotunda, is the official fundraising arm of the Rotunda Hospital. It’s a registered charity and is governed by an elected board.

The three listed directors on the Rotunda Foundation are Marie Malone, Sylvia Graham and Andrew Wortley. Ms Malone is also listed as the company’s secretary.

The foundation’s function is to fundraise in aid of the Rotunda Hospital for research, better facilities, services and additional life-saving equipment, particularly where the State is unable to meet such costs.

A spokeswoman for the Rotunda Foundation said it takes no position on the issues being promoted by groups that seek to rent the room. “The Pillar Room is just a venue for people to hire,” she said. “We have nothing to do with the event itself.

“It’s a space that anyone can rent. We don’t get involved in the issues they are promoting because we have nothing to do with that. It’s nothing to do with either the hospital or ourselves. We don’t take a position on it.

“We welcome any client that conforms to the hire regulations of the room. That’s how we’ve always looked at it. It can be any political organisation. Whatever their conference or meeting is about is not something we would interfere with.”

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