Cabinet has approved the ownership structure for the co-location of the new National Maternity Hospital, after weeks of debate over whether the proposal provides enough safeguards to protect women’s medical care.
Speaking as he entered Cabinet, Transport Minister and Green Party leader Eamon Ryan said there had been clarity since the Cabinet last considered the co-location proposal with St. Vincent’s.
“I think there’s been a lot of clarification over the last two weeks, and I think that was a good thing, around this issue. [of] which is clinically appropriate,” he said.
“So, like many other people, I listened to them.”
The National Maternity Hospital is currently in a 130-year-old building on Holles Street in Dublin city center which has been described as not fit for purpose.
The government’s plan proposes to co-locate the new National Maternity Hospital on the St Vincent’s Elm Park campus and lease the land from St Vincent’s for 299 years at 10 euros a year, which the government says is effectively equivalent to the property.
Concerns have been raised that religious ethos may interfere with decisions made at the new maternity ward.
Entering Cabinet, Health Minister Stephen Donnelly said it had become clear over the past two weeks that the new National Maternity Hospital will be a voluntary, “entirely secular” public hospital.
There was some opposition to the plans when Mr Donnelly last presented the proposed colocation plan to Cabinet two weeks ago.
Approval was delayed to allow the release of documents outlining the ownership structure to allay concerns.
Mr Donnelly, legal and medical experts, critics of the co-location plan and representatives of St Vincent’s healthcare group have also appeared before the Oireachtas health committee over the past fortnight to discuss the proposal .
Tourism Minister Catherine Martin was among the Cabinet ministers who first raised concerns.
On Friday, Ms Martin gave her backing to the plan, saying that after receiving written assurances and clarifications, she now believes “the safeguards and protections are there to protect services for women”.