The Workers’ Party calls for a clear separation of Church and State in the development of the new National Maternity Hospital. This new hospital must be built on State owned land and must be under public ownership and control.
Claire O’Connor, Workers’ Party Dublin organiser, has stated: “On this, the third anniversary of the Repeal of the Eighth Amendment it is clear that, contrary to belief among much of the public, the Religious Sisters of Charity have not gone away and in fact are creating structures to ensure that their ethos prevails long after they are gone. If present plans for the new hospital are allowed to continue, the new NMH will be owned 100% by a private Catholic company, St Vincent’s Holdings. One of the functions of St Vincent’s Holdings is to police ethical compliance of hospital activities, including – under the Mulvey Agreement – the activities of the new NMH”
“Does ‘’ethical compliance’’ align with Catholic Church ethics or secular ethics?” OConnor asked
She continued: “St Vincent’s Holdings is a private Catholic company. It has been set up for the purpose of owning and controlling the hospitals belonging to the Religious Sisters of Charity and this will include the new NMH. The Religious Sisters of Charity who own the freehold of the site on which it is proposed to build the new hospital will only grant a lease to government to build the new facility. Leasing the land is a mechanism for the nuns’ company to gain ownership of the new hospital”
“It is imperative” O’Connor said “that the State accepts nothing less than a freehold title to the site on which it will spend €500 million of tax payers’ money in building the hospital – not to mention the maintenance and running costs of the hospital in the future”.
O’Connor added, “ownership is key to controlling the operations of the hospital. The complex ownership structure proposed for the new NMH is to ensure that the new National Maternity Hospital will be brought under strict Catholic control. In setting up this structure the nuns have seen to it that the new maternity hospital will be run on their terms, and that it will provide reproductive health services that comply with their congregational code. The Government will have no control over the range of reproductive health services that will be available in the new hospital once the agreements between the Government and the nuns’ company, St Vincent’s Holdings, is signed. The Workers’ Party is calling on the Minister for Health not to sign up to any agreement in which the State will not have full ownership, and control over how the hospital will operate”
O’Connor concluded: “Having freehold title is the only way to guarantee that the State has complete ownership and of ensuring secular control of the new National Maternity Hospital”