The National Maternity Hospital


Sir, – There must be something radically wrong with the design of the new National Maternity Hospital if the “project will be in deep trouble” if it is delayed after January 1st, 2019, when new EU-wide regulations come into force (Tony O’Brien, Opinion & Analysis, December 8th).

Surely the design of the new maternity hospital should have anticipated and included whatever additional features that will be required by these new EU regulations. The women of Ireland deserve a maternity hospital that complies with the best and most up-to-date EU building requirements and not to have one that was constructed to escape the cost implications of EU regulatory best practice. – Yours, etc,



Co Dublin.

Sir, – Tony O’Brien (Opinion & Analysis, December 8th) exhorts us to be intellectually honest in our debate about the role of the Catholic Church in Irish society. He reminds us of the role of religious orders in the development of health care in Ireland.

However, it would perhaps have been useful to recall that a driving force behind the church’s efforts was to exclude other possible providers of services, especially the State both before and after Independence. This policy was applied not only in health care but also in education and social care, especially in the care of vulnerable women and children.

An intellectually honest analysis of the legacy of Catholic institutions in the development of social provision in Ireland should therefore take account of their actions to maintain and extend their dominance of social provision by frustrating the emergence of other providers. Furthermore one should recognise the church’s role in preventing or delaying such developments as publicly financed multifaith or secular education, medical insurance and health care.

As the ongoing debates about the governance of the National Maternity Hospital or the patronage of schools reveal we are not in the process of “disentangling” the State and the church, rather the State, backed by public opinion, is attempting to dismantle, in the face of considerable resistance, a complex structure of faith-orientated social provision that has been deliberately constructed over many years to frustrate public policy! – Yours, etc,



Co Wicklow.

Sir, – Listening to the long discussion with Dr Rhona Mahony on RTÉ radio last Saturday about religious involvement in our new maternity hospital, I heard presenter Marian Finucane ask us to pause for the Angelus to be broadcast.

Should we hold that thought permanently? – Yours, etc,