Thousands oppose nuns owning new hospital
An online petition to block The Sisters of Charity from owning the new national maternity hospital has got thousands of signatures overnight.
The Health Minister stated the hospital would be independent and the religious charity would have no influence on decision making.
On the running of the facility, Minister Harris explained: "I have heard people say that nuns will be running the hospital". Not true. I have heard that nuns will be gifted the hospital.
"I have heard people talk about nuns and redress".
"At a time where the Government claims it won't be able to expand the redress scheme because of "huge financial implications for the State" - the refusal of The Sisters of Charity to pay their fair share is even more offensive and damaging to survivors and their families", she said.
Critics have hit out at the fact that the religious order, who previously rang Magdalene Laundries and were ordered to pay redress to victims which they have not yet done, should have any role in maternity care.
"An arrangement on governance so that Holles Street could move from Holles Street to the campus of St Vincents and the land there is owned by The Sisters of Charity".
The leading medic called for people to "get real" and said contraceptive treatment or abortions when a woman's life is at risk will be carried out at the new hospital.
"At the moment in Holles Street we provide services to women".
Update 7.30pm: Dr Rhona Mahony, Master of the National Maternity Hospital, has released a statement.
"The state is investing €300 million of your money and my money in a new maternity hospital".
"The ethos will be excellence in clinical care, it will not be a Catholic ethos". No private entity or religious order can profit in any way.
Councillor Éilish Ryan from the Workers Party, which is organising today's demonstration, says Irish women want well-funded, state-run public services, that are not owned by the Church, big corporations, or anyone else.
"Robust contractual arrangements must be put in place to make sure that this is a reality".
The minister said the Sisters of Charity were giving very valuable land to the state at no cost.
Dr Peter Boylan said he fully supports the current master of Holles Street in the need for the new facility, but said the "structure is completely wrong". The current facility is not fit for objective.
"We need to ensure patients attending the National Maternity Hospital have immediate access to theatres, high dependency and intensive care provision in an acute adult hospital if the need arises. That is what I intend to do, while absolutely protecting, public health policy, taxpayers' money and the State".
A year ago a deal was finally struck in the long running row over who will govern the proposed new National Maternity Hospital when St Vincent's and Holles Street merge.