National Maternity Hospital controversy


Sir, – You report that Kieran Mulvey has said although elements of the agreement will be “clarified”, the deal “will stand” (News, April 23rd). In the absence of comment from the Sisters of Charity, and the uncharacteristic silence of the Minister for Health, the Cabinet’s most prolific micro-blogger, this is indeed news. – Yours, etc,



Co Wicklow.

Sir, – I am hugely saddened by the current maternity hospital controversy.

In particular, I regret the extreme anti-Catholic sentiment that is being whipped up by certain activists in our society, who are prepared to lobby, it seems, to sabotage this hugely important and long overdue project in order to promote their anti-church and pro-abortion agenda.

No sincere Catholic of today would condone the actions of certain religious in the past with regard to mother and baby homes and the cruelty that single mothers and children suffered.

However, the campaign now launched to blacken the Sisters of Charity is absolutely unacceptable. The vast majority of religious sisters in the past, and those remaining today, do not deserve this unfair vilification by any means.

In fact they deserve our appreciation and gratitude and, at the very least, our respect. It is easy for us to be conditioned by the anti-church sentiment that is promoted today without stopping to think for ourselves.

Let us not forget that before the State provided healthcare and education in this country, it was the religious orders who did so free of charge and with huge personal dedication and with a sense of service to Irish society.

Surely what is important here is that this facility is up and running as soon as possible to allow the women of Dublin and surrounding areas to have their babies delivered in a safe and appropriate environment. The fact that our current facility is unsafe and not fit for purpose is well known.

The agreement that was achieved involved lengthy and difficult negotiations, the issue of ethos and governance having being debated and addressed.

Please let us not allow these spurious concerns raised by spurious lobbyists scupper the plans for this vital medical facility.– Yours, etc,



Dublin 6.

Sir- Judging by the tone of some recent letters, one might be forgiven for believing that the Sisters of Charity were really women (and God forbid, Irish women). Secular Ireland has embraced its own brand of acceptable misogyny. – Yours, etc,



Co Donegal.

Sir, – Depending upon which source is consulted, “endow” means to give, bequeath, donate, or enrich a person or institution with a gift of money or property. Small wonder then, that those who framed our Constitution were careful to enshrine within it the reassurance that no religious grouping would be favoured over another in the matter of financial handouts from the State.

Article 44.2.2 of the Constitution of Ireland reads: “The State guarantees not to endow any religion.”

The proposal to vest sole ownership of the new National Maternity Hospital, costing €300 million of taxpayers’ money, in a Catholic order of nuns seems to be endowment of religion on a grand scale.

Perhaps the Government received advice from the Attorney General that no conflict with the Constitution would be likely to arise. In view of the evolving crisis, it is urgent now that any such advice be placed in the public domain. – Yours, etc,


Clontarf, Dublin 3.

A chara, – The present debacle regarding St Vincent’s and the proposed new maternity hospital brings into sharp focus the practice by successive governments of devolving the delivery of services, especially health and education, to non-statutory bodies. When will we ever learn? – Yours, etc,



Co Meath.

Sir, – If the nuns want to influence what healthcare is available to our citizens by seats on the board or dubious “ethics committees” then we must refuse point blank.

Nuns have a terrible track record of maternity and childcare in Ireland.

In a pluralistic society religious orders have no business controlling the care available in a national maternity hospital.

Why do they even want to try to have such control?

I have seen no statistics on the demographics of nuns in Ireland today, but if it is anything like that of priests, there will be virtually no nuns left within a generation.

Most of the people I know under 30 years of age have not encountered a nun in their daily lives in years possibly even decades.

To have an organisation that makes up such a tiny percentage of the population trying to impose their “religious ethics” on the healthcare of the vast majority of the population decades into the future is beyond belief. – Yours, etc,



Co Cork.

Sir, – In this neck of the woods, the county council has an option when it wants a piece of land that belongs to someone else. It simply gives a notification of a compulsory purchase and moves in. The details are sorted out later. How come the Government cannot do the same for an unused site in Dublin?

It was interesting to see the Bishop of Elphin let the cat out of the bag. Now we know what the nuns’ assurances are worth.

I have been a long-term voter for Fine Gael mostly because I disliked the alternatives even more.

If this deal goes through, there is at least one certainty come the next general election: I will not be voting for Fine Gael. – Yours, etc,



Co Mayo.