'Utter folly' – Government seek approval for National Maternity Hospital tender

Today, the Minister of Health Stephen Donnelly will seek approval to proceed with the tender for ...
Faye Curran
Faye Curran

12.37 11 Jul 2023

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'Utter folly' – Government see...

'Utter folly' – Government seek approval for National Maternity Hospital tender

Faye Curran
Faye Curran

12.37 11 Jul 2023

Share this article

Today, the Minister of Health Stephen Donnelly will seek approval to proceed with the tender for the new National Maternity Hospital.

The Government is set to decide on whether to proceed with the construction of the new National Maternity Hospital (NMH) at St. Vincent's Hospital in Elm Park. The move would involve relocating from its current location on Holles Street.

The proposed move has been met with some controversy over the concerns about the influence of the religious order that owns St. Vincent's.


On The Pat Kenny Show, former NMH Master Dr Peter Boylan said he is surprised Minister Donnelly is going ahead with the tender after 10 years.

"10 years ago, the whole project made a lot of sense [because] to have a truly independent co-located hospital cost about €150 million," he said.

"Now what has happened is the facts have changed to the extent that in my opinion, it'd be an act of utter folly for the government to commit more than a billion of taxpayers' public money to proceed with the project in its present form."

The facts

Dr Boylan said the main change in the past 10 years is the 31% decrease in the number of deliveries in the NMH.

"If you look at where people are having their babies, they're living in the North and the West of the city – people are not having as many babies in the South and South County Dublin," he said.

"The business plan really needs to be reviewed in that respect."

The Vatican

Dr Boylan said the other challenge is that St. Vincent's Holdings – which owns St. Vincent's Hospice, St. Vincent's Private Hospital and St. Michael's Hospital – will own the new NMH.

"[It] will be a company, it will not be the existing National Charity Hospital under its current structure," he said.

"It will change completely in its constitution.

"St. Vincent's Holdings is the vehicle – a privately owned vehicle – into which the religious Sisters of Charity obtained Vatican permission to transfer their shareholding.

"We're being asked to believe that the Vatican has approved the formation of a company which will own a hospital in which termination of pregnancies, sterilisation, IVF etc, will take place.

"There's a touch of Alice in Wonderland about this, we're being asked to believe several impossible things."

Minister for Health

Despite Minister Donnelly's assertion that he had "all the assurances that he needs that every therapeutic procedure that is envisaged would be permitted" in the new NMS, Dr Boylan said he was not convinced.

"The same minister is not able to ensure that current services are provided in all 19 maternity units around the country," he said.

"That's three years after the implementation of the reform of the repeal of the Eighth Amendment and the legislation that followed.

"Quite honestly, this is more of the same kind of stuff that we hear from them regularly – BS in a word.

"He couldn't even get hospitals to agree to allow visiting by partners during birth."

Board structure

Dr Boylan said the board structure and the corporate structure of the hospital are made up of "three NMH, three Vincent's and three ministerial appointees."

"Now [if] you get a conservative minister, who appoints conservative members onto that board, and then you've got the dynamics of board structures.

"Then, you've got the shareholding arrangement – so, 99 shares of the new National Maternity Hospital will be held by St. Vincent's holdings," he said.

"One share will be held by the Minister  – whoever it happens to be – called 'golden share', and zero shares held by the National Maternity Hospital, and that's kind of significant.

"[The golden share] is supposed to be designed to protect against church interference, but yet the Vatican have approved this.

"For the Government to commit a billion of our money to a new hospital, which is going to be owned by a Vatican-approved company, really just beggars belief. It's an act of total irresponsibility."

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Catholic Church Dr Peter Boylan National Maternity Hospital Stephen Donnelly Vatican

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