Fintan O'Toole: A real republic should not have charity delivering public welfare

Maternity hospital ownership is essential to end culture of deference

June 17th, 2021: Tánaiste Leo Varadkar, responding to a Dáil question from People Before Profit TD Bríd Smith, has said that the Government has concerns over the land ownership, lease proposal and governance arrangements of the new national maternity hospital.

There is something Gothic about the story of the new national maternity hospital. It is populated by the undead. Habits of mind that should be long extinct still stalk the land. The most important of these zombie ideas is not religion. It is charity.

The new maternity hospital will cost at least €800 million, every cent of it public money. But while the State will own the hospital buildings, it will merely lease the land for 99 years from a private charity and the hospital itself will also be a private charitable institution.

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