Owning the National Maternity Hospital


Sir, – Is the site at Mount Merrion the best possible site for the new Maternity Hospital which will cost the taxpayers €300 million?

The St Vincent’s site at Mount Merrion is beside the sea. If you draw a circle around it, either small or large, you will see that almost half the catchment area is the sea. So who benefits most from this site? It is very convenient for those who dwell in south Co Dublin, but being so far from a motorway will be difficult to access for the rest of us. Almost any other site would be better.

Tallaght Hospital not only has the space for a new hospital at present but also has space for future expansion and is situated very near the M50, making it more readily accessible to a far greater number of people.

Surely this €300 million of public money should be spent to give the greatest good to the greatest number of people. – Yours, etc,



Co Dublin.

Sir, – The response to the NMH debate in your letter pages contains many now-familiar responses from the religious and the right.

Whether is topic is alcohol on Good Friday or the continued grip the church has on our State institutions, we hear phrases like “Does it really do any harm?”, “They’re not all bad”, and, my personal favourite, “No, you’re the intolerant one.”

It is of some comfort that this is a clear sign of an opponent who knows deep down that they have lost the argument and is resorting to the right’s favourite tactic of accusing the other side of doing exactly what they plan to do in order to force an appearance of equivalence and nullify a debate that they would surely lose on more rational terms.

I am no fan of the church but, like a good, tolerant liberal, I am happy to leave it alone as long as it leaves me alone.

However, I become belligerently anti-clerical when they again and again inveigle, cajole but, more usually, demand roles in our State institutions.

Making the statement “There is no way a religious group should be given ownership of our National Maternity Hospital” should be just self-evident and uncontroversial. It does not require any reference to the church’s awful record every time this has happened in the past, it is not intolerant, and I don’t really care if it is anti-clerical.

The Government should be ashamed of its abject cowardice. – Yours, etc,



Dublin 6.

Sir, – I would presume that private maternity care will be delivered in the new NMH, as it is in the current site on Holles Street. Will the revenue from this go to the St Vincent’s Healthcare Group (SVHG)? If that is the case, it would provide an opportunity for SVHG to generate an income from an asset that is paid for by the public, which strikes me as being a bad deal for the State.

Furthermore, if private practice is permitted in the new (publicly funded) NMH building, this will mean that access to this publicly funded resource will be limited by ability to pay, not by clinical need. Again, this would also represent a poor deal for the public and the State.

Finally, would SVHG be able to use this new €300 million asset as collateral, or to mortgage it to raise funds for other purposes, such as expanding its presence in private hospitals?

I do not know the answer to any of the above questions, but as a taxpayer I feel we have a right to get them. Because it seems to me like the public would get far better value for money (and control the ethos of the hospital) if, in addition to paying for the entire hospital, we also got to own it. – Yours, etc,



Dublin 14.