Varadkar is "certain" new Maternity Hospital will be independent of religious influence

The former Health Minister called for "cool heads" amidst the controversy

Varadkar is "certain" new Maternity Hospital will be independent of religious influence

Leo Varadkar talking to press in Royal Irish Academy Dublin | Image: RollingNews.ie

Minister for Social Protection Leo Varadkar has insisted the new National Maternity Hospital will have clinical independence.

Speaking on Yates On Sunday, the former Health Minister said "every procedure that's legal in the state" will take place at the medical facility, and will not be influenced by a religious ethos.

"There will be clinical independence at the hospital," he said. "The national Maternity Hospital will have its own board. It will have its own budget. The mastership system [...] will remain.

Questions of religious influence have been further exacerbated by an exclusive Newstalk.com report which found that the Mater Hospital, also run by a religious order, does not provide women with the contraceptive pill'

Minister Varadkar called for "cool heads" amidst the controversy, saying that despite his own "dim view" of religious orders", the new facility urgently needs to be go ahead.

"It's essential that it goes ahead [...] It's the only place it could go. We know how long from previous experiences how long it takes to put a project like this together."

"Absolute confidence"

Minister Varadkar also said he has "absolute confidence" in the current Minister for Health Simon Harris, saying the Ministry is the only position in cabinet that has a lot of responsibility but lacks in authority. 

"I think he's doing a very good job," he said.

During the week, Minister Harris said he remains fully committed to the project as its ownership is now under review.