Maternity hospital protest gets underway in Dublin

Organisers say people don’t trust the Sisters of Charity to "do what is best" with their ownership of the hospital

Maternity hospital protest gets underway in Dublin

FILE PHOTO: The National Maternity Hospital on Holles Street in Dublin. Image: Mark Stedman/RollingNews

Updated 15:00

Approximately 2000 people have marched in Dublin this afternoon calling for the National Maternity Hospital to be kept in public ownership.

The various groups- including ‘Justice for Magdalenes’ (JFM) and ‘Parents for Choice’ (PFC) have said the hospital belongs in public not private hands.

The Minister for Health Simon Harris has insisted he is “as determined as ever” to go ahead with the project and has called for a period of calm to discuss the plans with the various hospital boards ahead of a planning permission decision from An Bord Pleanála – due in the autumn.

He has insisted the religious organisation will be unable to profit from the facility and pledged to ensure that there will be no religious interference in the hospitals ethos or clinical independence.

However, these people attending today's rally aren't convinced:

Image: Paul Quinn/Newstalk

Speaking ahead of today’s rally, PFC spokesperson Sinéad Redmond said the people do not trust the Sisters of Charity to “do what is best with their ownership” of the facility.

She said modern Ireland has no place for religious involvement in health care services – adding that our public institutions need to reflect that change.

“Do we have any assurances that what has happened in other religiously owned and run hospitals, such as the Mater - where cancer trials have been pulled because they required women to use contraception?” she asked. “The answer to all that is no we don’t.”

“There is a general wrongness in this action and it should be really, really obvious to the government that this is not something that should happen, that it is obviously going to outrage people and that people don’t trust the Sisters of Charity to do what is best with their ownership of the National Maternity Hospital.”

She said it is a mark of disrespect to the survivors of mother and baby homes, “and to the people of Ireland, to give the Sisters of Charity ownership of our National Maternity Hospital.”

As parents, we are protesting to protect our maternity care and our daughters' future care, and to ensure that healthcare facilities paid for by the people of Ireland are accountable to and run by the people of Ireland,” she said.

Image: Paul Quinn/Newstalk

Róisín Shortall – the co-leader of the Social Democrats – is attending today’s march.

She said the government has failed to understand that the Irish people will not stand by as ownership of the hospital is handed over to a private religious group.

“The Minister for Health has asked for a month to give him a chance to get to grips with the crisis facing him,” she said. “He doesn’t need a month.”

“If he takes ten minutes to read the report which lays out how the new National Maternity Hospital will be run - he should realise that the whole thing is unworkable.
 
“If the citizens of Ireland are to spend €300 million or more on a new National Maternity Hospital, they should own it.”

The gathering heard from a range of speakers - including advocacy organisations and survivor groups.