Tag Archives: The Irish Times

From top: The Religious Sisters of Charity are to transfer ownership of St Vincent’s Healthcare Group; Dr Peter Boylan

April Duff raises valid questions regarding St Vincent’s Holdings CLG (company limited by guarantee), the company into which the Religious Sisters of Charity (RSC) have received Vatican permission to transfer their 100 per cent shareholding in the St Vincent’s Healthcare Group (SVHG).

In particular she asks if the public can be sure that the news “will remove any remaining concerns about religious influence” on the planned new National Maternity Hospital, as the Minister for Health stated last week.

I believe serious concerns remain, and must be addressed transparently and immediately.

The statement by Sr Patricia Lenihan, the superior general of the RSC, on May 8th that the congregation “is confident that the SVHG board, management and staff will continue to provide acute healthcare services that foster Mary Aikenhead’s [the founder of the order] mission and core values” strongly suggests that a Catholic ethos will be maintained in St Vincent’s Holdings CLG.

Over the last 25 years or so, as the numbers of religious in Catholic congregations worldwide have declined, it has become common for their assets to be transferred into Vatican-approved charities, with lay boards of directors. These structures are known as public juridic persons of pontifical right.

They are derived as a mechanism of canon law, but recognised in civil law. Sr Lenihan’s statement quoted above sums up precisely the function and responsibilities of a public juridic person.

There are numerous examples in North America and Australia, and increasingly in Ireland, Asia and Africa.

In recent years we have seen the transfer to public juridic persons of the Mater Hospital group (2016), the Mercy Hospital in Cork (2016), the Bon Secours group (2017), and St John of God’s (2019). The holding companies of all these organisations are established under Irish company law.

At the same time, they are absolutely transparent on their websites that they are part of the healthcare ministry of the Catholic Church. They are equally open that their hospitals do not provide services such as elective sterilisation, abortion, or IVF.

The problem with St Vincent’s Holdings CLG is that, as SVHG’s most recent annual report states, it intends to own the planned new National Maternity 100 per cent.

Yet I cannot find a single example anywhere in the world where the Vatican has approved the transfer of assets of a Catholic congregation to a company that will own a hospital providing women’s healthcare services absolutely prohibited by Catholic teaching.

To believe that the Irish Sisters of Charity will be unique in this respect stretches my credulity to breaking point.

Unless it is proved beyond doubt that St Vincent’s Holdings is not a public juridic person (or similar vehicle), can the Minister of Health and his officials really be certain that no concerns remain about Catholic ethos on the Elm Park campus?

Have the members of the boards of both hospitals, appointed for their legal, professional and commercial expertise, made themselves fully aware of all issues pertaining to the civil and canonical transfer of assets of Catholic healthcare organisations and the obligations that ensue?

An estimated €100 million has already been spent on professional fees, preparatory works and the construction of a pharmacy and car park at Elm Park. It is now essential that the Religious Sisters of Charity publish both the relevant correspondence with the Vatican as well as the full memorandum and articles of association of St Vincent’s Holdings CLG so that the public can see exactly what has been agreed. Unverified assurances are no substitute for documentary evidence.

The whole saga has the makings of a very Irish scandal.

Dr Peter Boylan,
(Life Governor and Former Master,
National Maternity Hospital),
Dublin 6.

Transfer of lands to maternity hospital (The Irish Times letters page)

Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar speaking to journalists outside the HSE Dublin Covid 19 response hub in Granegorman, Dublin yesterday

More fear porn?

This morning.

Ahead of the Dáil sitting from noon today when statements will be made on the economy, health and education,  The Irish Times,reports on a ‘jaw-dropping’ memo sent to cabinet on the next phase of the pandemic

In a note sent to the Cabinet from the Department of the Taoiseach this week, Ministers were told that while the initial stage was “both swift and unprecedented, and was experienced by everyone together and in a relatively unified spirit”, this may change as the long-term effects come into play.

“This includes unemployment, reduced income, increased debt, closure of businesses, reduced educational opportunities, restrictions on movement and social interactions, and ultimately the loss of loved ones.”

The note, the tone of which was described as “jaw-dropping” by sources, outlined the challenges ahead, such as the difficulty of opening some sections of the economy and not others, reducing income supports and tightening procedures for those entering the country, as well as opportunities.

Save yourselves, etc.

Coronavirus: ‘Jaw-dropping’ confidential Government memo warns of ‘divisive’ phase (Fiach Kelly, The Irish Times)


Offices of The Irish Times on Tara Street, Dublin 2

The Irish Times is reporting online that it has announced a three-month pay cut of up to 30 per cent for higher-paid managers and editors.

Laura Slattery reports:

Other salaries will be maintained with the support of the Government subsidy scheme, the company told staff on Thursday.

Reduced working hours may be required in some cases, and a recruitment freeze has been introduced across the organisation.

Executive and non-executive directors of the Irish Times DAC and the Irish Times Trust have waived their fees for six months, while the chairmen of the company and the trust have waived their salaries for this period.

The company will also target a range of non-payroll costs.

Irish Times cuts senior manager and editor pay by up to 30% (Laura Slattery, The Irish Times)


Google Maps

Today’s Irish Times

In today’s Irish Times.

Susie O’Connor writes:

“If we were to look at new ministers joining the Cabinet, who will leave? I would argue to change our Ministers for Health and Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs would be unhelpful to say the least. Even if they remain under the D’Hondt system, replacing the Minister for Finance with his experience of leading through financial recovery is a poor move.

“Moving further through the Cabinet, is it appropriate to change the Ministers for Business and Social Protection who are at the rapidly evolving frontline? And if the crisis deepens in relation to social order, will inexperienced ministers for justice and defence add value?

“Yes, there are constitutional questions relating to this, but if Covid-19 had hit six weeks earlier they would not arise. Extraordinary times need exceptional measures.”

The newspaper describes Ms O’Connor as “a business adviser with Genesis Management Consulting and a former government special adviser to Charlie Flanagan”.

According to her LinkedIn page, Ms O’Connor was a special advisor at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade for two years, from 2014 to 2016; was a policy and communications advisor at Fine Gael for a year, from 2011 to 2012; involved in the operations and logistics of former Taoiseach Enda Kenny’s “winning General Election tour” in February 2011; and CEO of Young Fine Gael and a Fine Gael National Youth Officer for eight years, from 2003 to 2011.

Ms O’Connor was also the campaign manager of RTÉ journalist George Lee when he won a seat in the Dublin South by-election in June 2009.

She might be a little biased.

Coronavirus crisis is no time for rookie ministers (Susie O’Connor, The Irish Times)

This morning.

A letter to Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, signed by more than 1,000 people, has been published on page three of The Irish Times.

In the letter, the signatories are calling for a “new conversation” about the constitutional future of the island of Ireland.

Over 1,000 sign ‘new conversation’ open letter to Taoiseach (The Irish Times)

Independent TD Noel Grealish

This morning in today’s Irish Times.

Solicitor and partner at Abbey Law Wendy Lyon has dissected Independent TD Noel Grealish’s claims about asylum seekers before writing:

If there is to be a debate on how Ireland responds to its international obligations towards people seeking protection, our politicians and media have a duty to ensure it takes place in a context where claims like these will be fact-checked and falsehoods exposed.

It is not enough to merely report what Noel Grealish says or ask him to “clarify” his comments – it must be shown that he is wrong.

In fairness.

Noel Grealish’s views of asylum seekers are based on myth (Wendy Lyon, The Irish Times)


Baby seagulls fed by their mother in Dublin city centre in June

We’ve taken away the herrings from herring gulls, and most of the other fish in the sea, then built on their nesting sites.

We have in fact destroyed their environment. So the gulls have had to come inshore to feed and nest.

Being a raucous and dirty bunch ourselves, we congregate in large numbers, make lots of noise to advertise our presence (particularly in Temple Bar!) and leave lots of “food” (waste) lying around on the ground, in bins and in landfill sites.

We also, conveniently for the gulls, carry it around in our hands as we walk, and lay it out on rugs and tables. The only way to reduce seagull populations in cities is to conduct a major cull of waste bins and outlaw eating outdoors, particularly while on the move.

In other countries, Japan for instance, there are no public waste bins, and eating on the street is considered particularly uncouth.

It is patronising to say that Bird Watch Ireland “has yet to catch up with the fact that […] they have become pests”.

Its role is to protect birds, not humans. Nor are herring gulls “oversized”. Many will die from starvation from a stomach full of plastic, thrown away by humans.

We need to stop the environmental destruction caused by our lifestyles and stop blaming gulls for a problem they didn’t cause.

Elaine Mullan,
Co Waterford.


Seagulls in Dublin (Irish Times letters page)

Related: Why it is time for a cull of seagulls in Dublin (Frank McDonald, The Irish Times)


From IDA magazine Innovation Ireland in 2014

This morning.

In The Irish Times, Karlin Lillington writes:

Let’s call it the San Francisco-fication of Dublin.

…The non-stop expansion of the tech sector, especially of multinationals, is a major (though not the only) engine behind these changes.

In comes yet another company, cornering another area of Dublin’s Docklands; up go pricey apartments to accommodate high-salaried employees.

Developers arrange deals to take social and affordable housing requirements off the table, trading them out to already-saturated communities at the edge of Dublin without adequate transport infrastructure.

Then, in a pincer movement, this limited market is further squeezed by landlords who AirBnB their properties…

How Silicon Docks is killing Dublin (Karlin Lillington, The Irish Times)

Pic: IDA Ireland

Mean while…

Today’s iIish Times

Localisation Girls writes:

Whither the role of Irish media and property supplements and ad revenue in tech g-entrification of Dublin…

Earlier: Dreams of Californication

‘Really geeked’ about growing eBay in Ireland (irish Times)

National Chairperson of the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign Fatin Al Tamimi outside RTÉ Studios in Donnybrook, Dublin 4 in March, calling for RTÉ to boycott the Eurovision Song Contest which is taking place in Tel Aviv

I usually find Mark Paul a precise and interesting writer. However, his language in his opinion piece is unusually slipshod.

He describes the call for a boycott of the Israeli-hosted Eurovision song contest as “indiscriminate”, “blunt” and “ill-defined”.

It is none of those things: it is a peaceful, calibrated and proportionate attempt to exert leverage over the Israeli government so that it might change its egregious policies towards Palestinians.

Far from a failure to “communicate fairly” with Israelis, the boycott call is sending a serious and constructive message – that so long as its policies are persisted with, the Israeli government will not be allowed reap the propaganda and other benefits it very consciously seeks to accrue from its sponsorship of cultural events like the Eurovision.

For this mild and measured boycott call to be equated with anti-Semitism is, among other things, an insult to the many Jews (including Israelis) who support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign in defence of Palestinian rights.

Andy Storey,
Co Dublin.

Reaction to Eurovision boycott call (The Irish Times letters page)

Eurovision boycott stirs painful memories for Jewish people (Mark Paul, The Irish Times)


Vicky Phelan

In today’s Irish Times,  Health Correspondent Paul Cullen has an interview with Limerick mother-of-two Vicky Phelan – one year on from her High Court case where she settled a case against Clinical Pathology Laboratories Inc, Austin, Texas, for €2.5million.

Ms Phelan, who refused to sign a gagging order about her case, was diagnosed with terminal cancer following a cervical smear test error.

Following her case, it later emerged that more than 200 women diagnosed with cancer were not informed of an audit which revised their earlier, negative smear tests.

Mr Cullen reports:

“…Ms Phelan said the Taoiseach ‘just doesn’t get it’ in relation to fixing the problems that have arisen.

‘The classic example is him going on Six One News saying no woman would ever have to go into court, and look what’s happened. That’s still the case and not only that, the tribunal has not yet been established in order for that not to happen.

I don’t think he gets it at all. And it’s not just because he’s a gay man, I just don’t think he gets it.’

…’I think we got a lot of promises made at the time, not to shut us up but to “give them what they want quickly and get them off the pages”.

‘Until we have a situation in this country where people are held accountable for what they’ve done, these things are just going to keep happening and there’ll be another scandal,’ she said.”

Meanwhile, during an interview with Miriam O’Callaghan on RTE’s Today with Sean O’Rourke this morning, Ms Phelan apologised for and clarified her ‘gay man’ comment (above).

She said:

“I’m critical of the Government in general. I suppose, I think some of what I said was taken out of context and I would like to apologise to the Taoiseach for the comment in today’s article.

“What I said, I was trying to make the point that the issues faced by the women and their families are wide-ranging, they involve input from a wide range of players, from the Department of Health to the HSE, legal profession, the medical profession, and the Attorney General’s office to draft up this legislation.

“And basically any unwillingness or inertia on the part of one player can hold everything up and that is exactly what has happened over the last 12 months.”

Asked specifically what she was trying to say when she made the “gay man” comment, Vicky said:

“This is a women’s issue and it’s always about women, that was the point I was making. It wasn’t anything to do with the Taoiseach being gay, whatsoever. That was totally taken out of context.”

“We’ve seen it on a number of occasions over the last number of years, Miriam, between the different scandals that have happened to women. Bridget McCole, the Hepatitis C scandal…I think we have a very poor record and poor history in this country in dealing with women’s issues.”

Vicky Phelan criticises Varadkar for ‘unacceptable delays’ (Paul Cullen, The Irish Times)

Listen back to interview in full here