- 24 Mar 22
In an open letter to An Taoiseach Micheal Martin, issued by the Our Maternity Hospital Campaign, the Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly is accused of making statements that are “manifestly untrue” in relation to the proposed deal to hand control of the new National Maternity Hospital to the St. Vincent’s Hospital Group...
The Our Maternity Hospital Campaign, a civil liberties group committed to ensuring that there's no religious involvement in the new National Maternity Hospital, has written an open letter to Taoiseach Micheál Martin, which contains stern criticism of the Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly.
"The Our Maternity Hospital Campaign has attempted to communicate our concerns on multiple occasions with the Minister for Health, but to little avail," they say. "In particular we are most concerned about the suggestion currently being promoted by the Minister that there are 'unbreakable legal stipulations'. This statement is manifestly untrue; no such agreement exists under Irish law that can never be challenged, altered, amended or rescinded."
Hot Press' own concerns about possible Religious Sisters of Charity involvement in the National Maternity Hospital are outlined here: https://www.hotpress.com/culture/national-maternity-hospital-stop-the-sell-out-22892764
Here's the letter sent today in full:
We are writing to you on behalf of the (also known as the Campaign Against Church Ownership of Women’s Healthcare), a civil liberties group committed to ensuring that the new National Maternity Hospital is not gifted to a private company, St. Vincent's Holdings CLG (SVH).
We have raised genuine concerns about the ownership, governance and legal status of the deal with St. Vincent’s Healthcare Group (SVHG). We know, based on sound independent legal advice, that this proposal will undermine the reproductive health care of the women of this State. Indeed our concerns are shared by the signatories to the cross-party letter sent to you and signed by both Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael elected representatives. Even if these concerns around governance and ownership were somehow to be satisfied we still challenge your government’s proposal to vest a vital state asset in a private company. Is such a proposal not against government policy and the ideals behind Sláintecare ?
The Our Maternity Hospital Campaign has attempted to communicate our concerns on multiple occasions with the Minister for Health, but to little avail. In particular we are most concerned about the suggestion currently being promoted by the Minister that there are “unbreakable legal stipulations”. This statement is manifestly untrue; no such agreement exists under Irish law that can never be challenged, altered, amended or rescinded.
In recent weeks, the Irish Examiner (16 February 2022) reported that Minister Donnelly called the campaign “misleading and malicious”. On Twitter, Minister Donnelly, echoing vested interests, commented that the campaign is “manifestly false”, “ill-informed”, “misinformation” and “misleading”. On Facebook, Minister Donnelly, stated explicitly that “I share the view of the doctors that the allegations being made, including by certain Dáil TDs, are misleading, ill-informed and manifestly false”.
It is of grave concern to us that our concerns, concerns shared by members of the Opposition, and indeed members of your own government are being dismissed in this casual and inaccurate manner.
We share the concerns of the consultants and, no doubt, the government in believing that the building of a new national maternity hospital is a urgent priority. However, we passionately believe that the mistakes of the past in relation to religious involvement in women’s healthcare and above all the transfer of state assets to private companies cannot go unchallenged.
We would welcome your response and an opportunity to meet with you as a matter of urgency.