Tag Archives: National Maternity Hospital

Saturday.

GPO, O’Connell Street, Dublin 1.

Scenes from the Make Our National Maternity Hospital Public protest at the Spire…

….Meanwhile, this morning:

The St Vincent’s Healthcare Group (SVHG) has said the Sisters of Charity will have no role in the new National Maternity Hospital when it moves to south Dublin.

A spokeswoman for the healthcare group said: “The Religious Sisters of Charity announced in May 2017 that they were withdrawing from St Vincent’s Healthcare group.

They resigned from the board at that date.

“We are now working towards giving effect to their decision.

In fairness.

Sisters of Charity to have no role in new National Maternity Hospital (Newstalk)

Rollingnews

A new petition has been set up on Uplift concerning the National Maternity Hospital calling for the hospital to be placed in public ownership.

The petition was created by the Campaign Against Church Ownership of Women’s Healthcare group.

The petition states:

Despite its name, the National Maternity Hospital is a private Catholic corporation. The hospital recently agreed to be taken over by a private company owned by the Sisters of Charity, St Vincent’s Healthcare Group (SVHG), which manages the nuns’ three hospitals.

The National Maternity Hospital is now slated to get a new facility built by the government on land owned by the nuns. This new build will cost an estimated €350m.

Contrary to what the Minister for Health has repeatedly claimed, the State will not own the new hospital. All the government will own are the bricks.

Current plans will see the maternity hospital governed by the nuns’ company, SVHG, and owned by a new private Catholic company to be set up by SVHG.

The Minister also claims the new hospital will be free of religious influence. Such claims ring hollow. With private ownership come legal powers and privileges. Private hospitals cannot be forced to provide services that conflict with their ethos. They cannot even be compelled to submit to independent inquiries into patient safety, as a High Court case taken by the same National Maternity Hospital against the Minister shows. The hospital recently won its case, blocking a HIQA inquiry following the death of a 34-year-old woman during surgery at the hospital.

The new maternity hospital was designed to be private and Catholic. We demand that it be public and secular.

Those who wish can sign the petition here.

Meanwhile, in The Sunday Times.

Justine McCarthy, in her opinion column, wrote about the matter, saying:

“…Ireland has a double standard in how it reacts to the past offences against humanity perpetrated by priests and those perpetrated by nuns.

Whatever vestige of blind faith Ireland still has, is preserved for the brides of Christ.

While male clerics have been all but stoned in the public square — regardless of their age, state of infirmity or personal goodness — nuns are popularly depicted as frail innocents.

Whenever the ghosts of nuns’ past outrages come back to haunt us all, up goes the refrain that society was the real culprit.

Old paternalistic habits die hard.

…This is not to say that innocent individuals, whether priests or nuns, ought to be vilified, for they should not, but it is to advocate that the same standards of accountability and vigilance apply equally to male and female congregations who oversaw institutional atrocities.”

Justine McCarthy: We can’t trust nuns on maternity care (The Sunday Times)

Previously: The Maternity Hospital Deal

How Deal Leaves Doors Open For Church Control (Legal Coffee Drinker)

This afternoon.

Outside the National Maternity Hospital on Holles Street, Dublin 2.

The Irish Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform is back.

Previously: Blanket Coverage

Via Darragh Doyle

Update:

Mark Sugrue writes:

The ICBR have been picketing Dublin maternity hospitals and each of them has a body worn camera filming the public. I’d like to raise awareness of the fact that, if they record you, you have the right to a copy of that video (and they have to manually blur out everyone else, which is expensive and takes them ages, meaning they have less time to picket). All the details you need to make a request are here.

St Vincent’s Chief Operating Officer Kay Connolly, Minister for Health Simon Harris and Dr Rhona Mahony, Master at Holles Street

The Religious Sisters of Charity will end our involvement in St Vincent’s Healthcare Group and will not be involved in the ownership or management of the new National Maternity Hospital.

For the last two years we have been actively working to find the best way to relinquish our shareholding of the St Vincent’s Healthcare Group (SVHG). It includes three hospitals: St Vincent’s University Hospital, St Vincent’s Private Hospital and St Michael’s Hospital, Dun Laoghaire.

Although the Sisters of Charity no longer have any direct involvement in the provision of healthcare services we remain dedicated to preserving the legacy of Mary Aikenhead, whose mission in life was to heal and care for the sick and poor.

We believe that the future continued success of SVHG can best be ensured by our transferring ownership of the group to a newly formed company with charitable status to be called “St Vincent’s”.

The Religious Sisters of Charity will have no involvement in this new company.

Upon completion of this proposed transaction, the requirement set out in the SVHG Constitution, to conduct and maintain the SVHG facilities in accordance with The Religious Sisters of Charity Health Service Philosophy and Ethical Code, will be amended and replaced to reflect compliance with national and international best practice guidelines on medical ethics and the laws of the Republic of Ireland.

The SVHG Board, management and staff will continue to provide acute healthcare services that foster Mary Aikenhead’s core values of dignity, compassion, justice, quality and advocacy.

They will ensure that the three hospitals in SVHG can continue to meet the need of their patients and families, so that every individual can always access the care and treatment they need to achieve health and well-being.

“St. Vincent’s” will replace the Sisters of Charity as the shareholders in SVHG and will meet the following criteria:

  • The shares in SVHG will be transferred to St. Vincent’s for a nominal/”peppercorn” consideration in return.
  • Consistent with the transfer of ownership, the Religious Sisters of Charity will no longer have a right to appoint Directors to the Board of SVHG, and the present two Sister Directors will resign from the Board with immediate effect.
  • “St. Vincent’s” will not be subject to undue influence by individuals or from any source.
  • “St. Vincent’s” will not seek to generate any profit or surplus, or to remunerate Directors for their work.
  • “St. Vincent’s” Directors will have required skillsets in law, finance, healthcare and social care.  They will be true to the values of our Foundress, recognising the right of everyone to access the care and treatment they need to achieve the best possible health care outcomes, regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, gender or personal means.
  • In the event of the liquidation or wind-up of St. Vincent’s at any time in the future, any surplus assets arising therefrom will be vested with the Charitable Regulator and utilised for healthcare purposes and facilities with similar values. This is in accordance with the provisions of the RSC Constitution.

Just as our Founder Mary Aikenhead saw the need in 1834 to establish a hospital to meet the needs of the sick and poor,  we believe that it is in the best interests of the patients and children born in the National Maternity Hospital today that they be provided with modern maternity and neonatal services that are women and infant-centred and integrated within the Elm Park campus.

It is now time for us to relinquish completely our involvement in SVHG.  We are confident that the Board, management and staff of SVHG will continue to maintain a steadfast dedication to providing the best possible acute healthcare to patients and their families in line with the values espoused by Mary Aikenhead.

This proposal has the full support of the Board of SVHG. It is subject to implementation of all necessary legal, financial and regulatory matters.

A statement released this morning by Sr Mary Christian, congregational leader of the Religious Sisters of Charity.

Previously: Taking On Church And State

Darkness To Light

UPDATE:

This morning.

At Buswells Hotel on Molesworth Street, Dublin 2.

Dick Spicer, of the Humanist Association of Ireland, his son Norman Spicer, and writer and publicist Peigin Doyle, from Sligo, hold a press conference to explain Dick and Norman’s legal challenge over the Government’s decision to give ownership of the proposed National Maternity Hospital at the St Vincent’s Hospital site in Elm Park to the Religious Sisters of Charity.

Niamh Lyons, in the Ireland edition of The Times, reports:

A High Court summons has been filed by two private citizens, Dick Spicer and his son Norman Spicer, against the state, the health minister and the attorney-general.

Dick Spicer, 70, is a founding member of the Humanist Association of Ireland and has a track record of campaigning on church and state issues. He played a significant role in the divorce referendum.

The plaintiffs believe that placing the maternity hospital under the “religious influence” of the SVHG will be judged to be unconstitutional and are demanding that the government abandon the plan.

State to be sued over nuns’ role in new hospital (Niamh Lyons, The Times Ireland edition)

Previously: How Deal Leaves Doors Open For Church Control

Leah Farrell/Rollingnews

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Chief Operating Officer at St Vincent’s University Hospital Kay Connolly; Minister for Health Simon Harris TD; and Dr Rhona Mahony, National Maternity Hospital master

Today.

At 5pm.

Is the deadline for submissions to An Bord Pleanála over the building of the new National Maternity Hospital on the St Vincent’s site in Elm Park, Dublin.

On March 10, the Minister for Health Simon Harris announced that the application was made.

On the same day, Paul Cullen, in The Irish Times, reported:

The move follows the resolution of an 18-month dispute between the two institutions over governance of the new hospital and the recent decision by An Bord Pleanála that the development constitutes strategic infrastructure and can therefore be fast-tracked through the planning process.

Despite this, on May 2, Taoiseach Enda Kenny told the Dáil:

While a planning application has not yet been lodged for the proposed new maternity hospital on the St. Vincent’s University Hospital complex, the proposed structure guarantees that the very best facilities will be available for expectant mothers that one would expect to see in the early part of this century.

After the application was made in March, An Bord Pleanála wrote to Dublin City Council for its views on the application.

The proposed building will be 10m higher than the height permitted (24m), under the Dublin City Development Plan.

However.

Olivia Kelly, in The Irish Times, reports:

Three buildings on the St Vincent’s site already exceed the maximum permitted heights for the area: the clinical services building at just under 36m, the Nutley Wing at 40m and the private hospital building at more than 45m tall.”

“…Due to the presence of existing taller buildings the council had determined that the application did not contravene the city development plan.”

“However it said, even if the board determined that the building did not comply with the city development plan, it could still grant permission for the hospital, due to its veto powers under the planning acts.”

An Bord Pleanála is due to make a decision on the application by September 11, 2017.

Meanwhile.

In the latest edition of The Phoenix magazine…

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Council backs maternity hospital move despite building height (Olivia Kelly, Irish Times)

Dáil transcript: Kildarestreet.com

Yesterday: Darkness Into Light

Rollingnews.ie and Ruairí McKiernan

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march

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This afternoon.

Participants in the ‘We Own Our Hospitals’ march, organised by Parents for Choice, Uplift, the National Women’s Council of Ireland and Justice for Magdalenes, make their way from the Garden of Remembrance, Parnell Square, Dublin 1 to Leinster House.

The march coincides with the Uplift petition – currently signed by 103,840 people (above) – against the decision to give sole ownership of the new National Maternity Hospital to the Religious Sisters of Charity.

RTÉ reports that “up to 1,500” people are taking part in the march.

The petition can be signed here

Protest over religious ownership of new National Maternity Hospital (RTE)

Pics: National Women’s Council of Ireland, Laura Hogan, Donal Adams, Paul Quinn, Natasha Duffy, Uplift, Kate Brennan Harding

 

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This Sunday.

From the Garden of Remembrance, Dublin 1 at 2pm.

Via Uplift:

A new National Maternity Hospital is urgently needed but cannot be allowed to be owned by the Sisters of Charity. Parents for Choice, Uplift, and National Women’s Council of Ireland and Justice for Magdalens are organising a national people powered march to send a message to Health Minister Simon Harris that he must urgently deal with this crisis and guarantee that the hospital will not be owned by a religious order.

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Roisín Shortall, co-leader of the Social Democrats

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Article 44 from Bunreacht na hÉireann

The Minister for Health’s announcement that he will re-examine the proposal to hand ownership of the publicly-funded National Maternity Hospital (NMH) to the privately owned St Vincent’s Healthcare Group is to be welcomed.

However, I would like to raise a matter of grave concern, hitherto overlooked, which needs to be addressed before any agreement on relocation can proceed.

At present, Article 44.2.5 of the Constitution confers on every religious denomination “the right to manage its own affairs, own, acquire and administer property, movable and immovable, and maintain institutions for religious or charitable purposes.”

In the past the Supreme Court has emphasised the level of autonomy that this Article gives to religious organisations. It has been interpreted as conferring on religious institutions the right to apply their own doctrines in institutions under their ownership. It has also been successfully used to defeat well-founded cases taken against religious denominations under civil law.

For example, in a significant judgment in the 1979 case of McGrath and O Ruairc v The Trustees of Maynooth College, the Supreme Court cited Article 44.2.5 while upholding the right of the Bishop trustees of the college to dismiss two priests from their teaching posts because they wanted to leave the priesthood.

St Vincent’s Healthcare Group (SVHG) is an institution set up by a religious denomination, the Religious Sisters of Charity. As the company’s foundation document makes clear, SVHG is legally dedicated to providing healthcare, “in keeping with the mission of the Catholic Church,” and its facilities operate within that ethos. If the new National Maternity Hospital is part of the St Vincent’s group, it too will come under the umbrella of the Constitutional provision.

In return for being handed sole ownership of the new €300 million maternity hospital, SVHG says it will enter into agreements guaranteeing the clinical independence of the new hospital and permitting it to perform any medical procedures that are lawful in the land – presumably including abortions and various types of contraception including sterilisations.

However, I believe that if the current deal goes ahead, there will be inevitable conflict in the future over how much control St. Vincent’s is to have in the new hospital.

In light of Article 44.2.5, how can we be sure that in any future dispute over the interpretation or implementation of agreements on the new hospital, the courts would not favour the religious denomination and its Catholic ethos?

In the event of a dispute, it seems that the Supreme Court would have to ensure that the Constitutional protection for the religious order must prevail. A court might find it had no option but to favour the Constitution over any other civil contract or agreement, however solemnly and publicly it had been agreed upon by all the parties concerned.

In a prescient piece in this newspaper yesterday, Fintan O’Toole reminded us that a 1982 High Court ruling upholding the right of the Holy Faith nuns to sack school teacher Eileen Flynn because her lifestyle was not in keeping with the Catholic ethos of the order has never been overturned.

In my view, this grave constitutional complication is yet another reason why all parts of the deal that give St Vincent’s Hospital Group ownership of the new National Maternity Hospital should be dismantled, so that the new hospital remains in the hands of those who will pay for it and who will be relying on its services, the Irish public.

Róisín Shortall TD
Social Democrats
Leinster House
Dublin 2

State funds and private healthcare groups (The Irish Times letters page)

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This afternoon.

In the Dáil.

During Leaders’ Questions.

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin raised the National Maternity Hospital with Taoiseach Enda Kenny.

From their exchange:

Micheál Martin:Can you confirm that that hospital group [St Vincent’s Hospital Group] and the Sisters of Charity will not have a majority on the board? And, above all, will you ensure that the State, the taxpayer, will own this hospital and will have its investment reflected in it? As a bottom line, given the investment it is taking?”

Enda Kenny: “Yes, I can, I can confirm that there will be complete clinical independence. I can confirm that the Sisters of Charity will not have majority of the board and, in relation of ownership, this is a matter that requires some, some consideration…”

Watch live here

Previously: How Deal Leaves Doors Open For Church Control