The Minister for Health has said the Government will not move forward with the relocation of the National Maternity Hospital until the Church transfers ownership of the land to the State.
It comes amid renewed concern that plans to build the new facility on the grounds of St Vincent’s Hospital may be delayed by the land ownership issue.
The Religious Sisters of Mercy announced in 2017 that they would have no involvement with the new National Maternity Hospital and would sell the land needed for the project to the St Vincent’s Hospital Group.
However, it emerged in recent weeks that the Vatican has yet to sign off on the plans – with pro-life groups lobbying the Church to block the transfer because the facility will offer abortion services.
In the Dáil this afternoon, Health Minister Simon Harris said there has been a “lot of misinformation and scaremongering” about the issue and said he believed the issues would be resolved.
He said the Government would not put the project out to tender until a legal framework protecting the “State's significant investment” had been agreed.
“We will not press go on the building of the new national maternity hospital at the St. Vincent's campus until all the issues, including that of the religious orders leaving and all those associated with governance, are resolved and the hospital is in public ownership,” he said.
He said work on a pharmacy and a new carpark on the site were already underway adding that the tender for the hospital proper would be issued when they are finished next year.
Fianna Fáil health spokesperson Stephen Donnelly said conditions at the three maternity hospitals in Dublin are currently “unacceptable for mothers, babies and clinicians.”
He called on the Government to set out a clear timeline for when the relocation of each hospital will be completed.