Lord Mayor refuses to back maternity hospital agreement

Brendan Carr says handing over the facility to a private group is "unacceptable"

Lord Mayor refuses to back maternity hospital agreement

Dublin Lord Mayor Brendan Carr arrives for last night’s meeting of the National Maternity Hospital board, 26-04-2017. Image: Sam Boal/RollingNews

The Lord Mayor of Dublin has again insisted that the state should not build a new National Maternity Hospital only to hand over ownership to a private organisation.

Brendan Carr is a member of the board of Holles St Hospital - which last night voted to reaffirm its commitment to the current arrangement.

The deal – which the Health Minister has said he is “as determined as ever” to get over the line – will see the facility built at the site of St. Vincent's, which is owned by religious group, the Sisters of Charity.

Mr Carr told Newstalk Breakfast this morning that despite assurances that the new facility will have full clinical and financial independence - the nun’s involvement at the hospital is unacceptable:

“I will not support any situation where there is €300m of public money – tax-payers money – being put into a private organisation for nothing in return, that is the facts of this thing,” he said.

“I am concerned about who is going to own the hospital. What we were told last night at the meeting was ‘ah it doesn’t really matter who owns it’ – well I don’t believe that to be the case, I believe we should own it [and] we should run it.”

Dr Peter Boylan resignation

The dispute has caused serious difficulties amongst the National Maternity Hospital board with former master Dr Peter Boylan announcing on The Pat Kenny Show this morning that he is to resign his position.

Dr Boylan had originally refused to resign after going public with his concerns that it was “highly likely” that the ownership issue would interfere with the clinical independence and ethical governance of the new facility.

It comes after the current master of the hospital called the row over ownership a "storm in a teacup."

St Vincent's board meeting

Meanwhile the board of St Vincent’s Healthcare Group is due to meet this evening to discuss the ongoing controversy.

It is hoped that legal documents - which have yet to be completed - could solve the ownership furore with the full clinical and financial independence enshrined in the new hospital’s memorandum.

Compulsory Purchase Order

Mr Carr again insisted this morning that the state should step in and issue a compulsory purchase order (CPO) on the land – which is currently being provided free of charge by the Sisters of Charity.

“I don’t believe that the state should be actually building such a development and handing it over to a private organisation and that is what this is here,” he said. “It wouldn’t happen anywhere else in the world.”

“The people of Ireland have no issue at all with investing in a maternity hospital, we need a National Maternity Hospital and one that is world class, but we do want to own it.

“Surely an agreement can be reached that they are happy with the price they are getting that the minister is happy with what he is paying for it and at the end of the day, the public are the one who are going to gain out of this and that is my concern at the end of this.”

It is likely that any CPO on the property would be held up in the courts for a number of years and would involve significant costs to the state.

You can listen back to the mayor's full conversation on Newstalk Breakfast here: