The National Maternity Hospital


Sir, – The recent controversy over the ownership of the new National Maternity Hospital misses one of the lessons from recent efforts to “divest” Catholic schools. It is not just about operational control. The ownership of the land is a defining factor.

In the case of schools – many of which had received substantial State investment in their buildings – the State found itself powerless when it sought a change of use or operator.

In a number of cases, even when the management and patron of these schools wished to implement a transfer, the State found that it was unable to do so due to ownership of the school site by a religious order.

By leaving such a valuable state asset as a modern hospital in private hands, the State will become vulnerable in the event that it wishes to reassign the building to a different function or operator.

We should not leave such a legacy to a future government. – Yours, etc,


Chief Executive Officer,

Educate Together,

Ormond Quay,

Dublin 7.

Sir, – There appears to be no Mercy south of the Liffey and no Charity to the north. Both virtues are casualties of the religious orders that bear their names.

Perhaps these communities of nuns could gift their hospitals to the State and make some amends for the past, rather than trying to hold our health services hostage to their own religious beliefs. – Yours, etc,



Dublin 13.

Sir, – As a result of the likely damage that Brexit will have on the Northern Irish economy, I saw for the first time in my life the slight possibility that a majority of the people in Northern Ireland might see the benefits of aligning themselves with the Republic of Ireland, rather than with the UK.

In the very long term, working together in such a manner might lead to the reunification of this island.

However, in relation to the National Maternity Hospital, the proposal to give over a building costing €300 million, and paid for by the State, to the Sisters of Charity, might appear to be an effort by the Irish State to scupper this potential by giving a propaganda coup to the hard-line unionist politicians. They will no doubt use it to their advantage – “Home rule is Rome rule”.

Surely the fear of Sinn Féin doing well from the possibility of co-operation between the North and the South would not persuade our Government to hand over such a large sum of money to this group, or would it? – Yours, etc,



Co Kildare.