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Why is the State building a €300million hospital and handing it over to a religious order?

The move by the Minister for Health to give ownership of the new state-funded National Maternity Hospital to the Religious Sisters of Charity has been criticised as highly inappropriate and deeply insensitive by the co-leader of the Social Democrats, Róisín Shortall TD.

Ms Shortall’s comments follow reports that the Department of Health has decided that the Sisters of Charity will be the “sole owner of the new hospital” which is to be built on a site at Elm Park at St Vincent’s University Hospital in south Dublin.

Ms Shortall said: “It is highly inappropriate for the State to allow a religious congregation, or any private interests, to be the owner of a hospital. Why is the State building a €300million hospital with taxpayers’ money and handing it over to a religious order?  It is very hard to see how there could be any rationale for this transaction.

“In addition, the fact that the Religious Sisters of Charity has failed so far to provide its share of funds to the redress scheme for victims of institutional abuse further compounds the issue as it shows a deep insensitivity towards abuse survivors.”

“The Minister for Health must explain to the public the reasons for this decision, which only adds to existing concerns about funding of the public and private hospitals that are part of the St Vincent’s Healthcare Group.”

“In a parliamentary question to the Minister this month I asked about the precise nature of the ownership and governance structure for the new National Maternity Hospital. The Minister’s reply did not address the ownership issue, despite the fact that plans for this must have already been at advanced stage.”