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08.14 25 Apr 2017


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A former master of the National Maternity Hospital has refused to resign his position on the hospital’s board.

Dr Peter Boylan was asked to step down after he criticised the plan to build the new facility at a site owned by the Sisters of Charity at St Vincent's Hospital in Dublin.

Concerns have been raised about the potential for religious influence over the new hospital and last week Dr Boylan spoke out about his reservations.

He said the 100 governors of the National Maternity Hospital (NMH) in Holles Street had yet to be asked for their agreement on the arrangement and insisted he had expressed his reservations to his fellow board members on a number of occasions.

While a member of the Cabinet says she needs to see the "legal fine print" in relation to the agreement on the National Maternity Hospital.

Minister Katherine Zappone wants to see "the legal fine print" for the hospital | Image: RollingNews.ie

Children’s Minister Katherine Zappone has refused to comment after Dr Boylan revealed he was urged to resign in a text message last weekend.

Minister Zappone says concerns over the land are matters for the board - but her concerns about clinical independence for the facility have not been answered.

"I need to see the legal fine print in relation to that.

"I welcome Minister Harris’ suggestion that Kieran Mulvey would come to the Oireachtas committee and outline the agreement to the committee.

"But I would also call that that agreement is published a soon as possible in the interests of transparency".

"Highly likely" ownership would interfere

 On The Pat Kenny Show earlier, Dr Boylan said the Department of Health had been warned "some time ago" that there would be ethical and ethos issues if the hospital was located on land owned by the religious group.

He said the chairman of the Ireland East Hospital group wrote to the department outlining concerns with the plan months ago - but nothing was done.

The former master of Holles Street said it is "highly likely" that the ownership issue would interfere with the new facilities ethical governance, adding that it was "a bit naive to expect that this would wash in the public mind."

The Bishop of Elphin Kevin Doran warned on Sunday that any land owned by any religious order is "ecclesiastical land and as such the Pope has primacy over governance."

Dr Boylan believes the best way to resolve the current situation would be for the religious order to sell the site to the state – adding that he will not be resigning his position.

"No, I don't think I should resign," he said. "I didn't cause this problem, I have just got involved in it and I feel a responsibility to speak because this is an issue that affects the health of women in Ireland going forward and I can’t in all honesty stay silent about this."

He said the whole issue relates to the separation of church and state.

"That is clearly a very complicated thing with an awful lot of historical issues and what a lot of people would describe as the toxic combination of De Valera and the hierarchy in the early years of the foundation of this state," he said.

"That has left a legacy that we really need to unwind at this stage and become a true republic where all religions are respected."

Resignation

The request for Dr Boylan’s resignation was reportedly made via text by the hospital’s deputy chairman Nicholas Kearns.

On Newstalk Breakfast, Paul Cullen health correspondent with The Irish Times said the call was, "directly for his action in going public and attacking the agreement that they had with St Vincent’s."

"The statement said that board members have a duty of loyalty to the board on which they serve and for this reason his resignation has been sought,” he said.

In the statement this morning the NMH said Dr Boylan was a member of the board at all times during the six months of mediation before the arrangement was agreed in November 2016.

It said the board was kept fully briefed on all developments during the negotiations phase and had overwhelmingly supported the agreement.

Dr Boylan was one of two members to abstain from the vote while one member voted against the agreement.

He is expected to attend a meeting of board as normal tomorrow night.

You can listen back to Dr Boylan's full conversation with Pat Kenny here:

Former master of the National Maternity Hospital refuses to resign

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