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The former Master of the National Maternity Hospital Peter Boylan said it was “inappropriate” for a religious order to have influence on a maternity hospital.
The Department of Health’s decision to give the Sisters of Charity sole ownership of the new €300 million hospital when it is relocated from Holles Street to the Elm Park campus adjacent to St Vincent’s Hospital has provoked controversy.
It was particularly inappropriate for a Catholic order given the “bad history”, he said.
“The question is why do the Sisters of Charity want to own a maternity hospital?” he told RTE’s Morning Ireland.
He pointed out that at present vasectomies and female sterilisation are not carried out in St Vincent’s Hospital which is run by the Sisters of Charity.
“What about IVF, abortion, gender realignment which will be contrary to the nuns’ beliefs?”
Mr Boylan was particularly concerned about comments made a member of the Sisters of Charity where she said could not make a judgment on concerns about the congregation’s ownership of the hospital influencing the medical care provided.
He said the hospital would be the only one on the world owned by a Catholic order and run by a Catholic order that allowed IVF, abortion, sterilisation and gender realignment.
“It would be unique in the world if that happened.
“She had an opportunity to say they will not interfere in clinical decisions, but she didn’t.”
Sr Agnes Reynolds, a member of the St Vincent’s Healthcare Group board told The Irish Times that the new hospital on the St Vincent’s campus in Dublin will “always respect the rights of the mother and the baby”.
A member of the St Vincent’s Healthcare Group board, she said the new maternity hospital would “reach out to all creeds and backgrounds . . . and give a good service to people”.
Mr Boylan said there was a “huge sense” of public outrage at the decision to hand over ownership of the new hospital to the Sisters of Charity.
Mr Boylan said he fully supported the current Master Rhona Mahony and recognised the need for a new hospital. He said she had been “backed into a corner” by the Minister for Health who appeared to be saying that it was either this option or “it won’t happen.”
“The Minister is the only person who can sort his out.
“He caused this. He was looking for an easy win, but he has scored an own goal.”
“It is completely unacceptable that €300 million of our money, State money is being given to the Sisters of Charity to build a hospital,” he said.
Mr Harris has said the Sisters of Charity would not benefit financially from their ownership of the hospital.
The Sisters of Charity has failed to meet its financial commitment to a redress scheme for victims of institutional child abuse. It has paid €2 million of the €5 million it promised to contribute in 200
Mr Harris said it was “not acceptable” that some orders had yet to pay all they owed to the redress scheme.
However, he said “it is wrong to conflate this extremely important redress issue” with the decision to build a “desperately” needed maternity hospital