Decision On Maternity Hospital Ownership 'Deeply Insulting And Hurtful'

The Department of Health has been criticised following its announcement that the new National Maternity Hospital is to be owned by the Sisters of Charity.

Sinn Féin described the decision as "deeply insulting and hurtful to the survivors of institutional abuse".

Health spokesperson Louise O'Reilly TD also questioned whether or not it is appropriate to put any organisation with a strict religious ethos in charge of our National Maternity Hospital given the current political climate and the potential for changes to our laws.

Teachta O'Reilly said: "Clearly the state has not learned the lessons of the past in outsourcing vital public services to religious orders.

"This move is an insult and deeply hurtful to survivors of institutional abuse and is yet another example of the government passing the buck in its responsibilities to healthcare. 

"The fact that the sisters of charity will be gifted our national maternity hospital after their steadfast refusal to honour obligations to survivors and victims beggars belief.

"Did anybody stop and think of the hurt this will cause, or the impact this decision will have on victims of abuse of this very religious order?

"I am also seriously concerned about the idea that any religious organisation with a strict religious ethos would be put in charge of our National Maternity Hospital given the current political climate and the potential for change in our laws.

"The minister for health must step in here and use common sense. This move is insensitive and outrageous and must be stopped before work begins. 

"It is the responsibility of the government to provide a functioning health service that does not discriminate on the basis of who you are, how much money you have or indeed what religion you are."

Labour Women also condemned the announcement by the Department, describing it as "an outrage and an insult to all women".

Speaking on the matter Chair of Labour Women Sinead Ahern said: "Today we have learned that the Sisters of Charity are to become the sole owner of the new National Maternity Hospital. This is a religious order that has to date failed to provide its share of funds to a redress scheme for institutional abuse victims and has previously announced that they would not be making any contribution to the State redress scheme for women who had been in the laundries. This begs the question why an order that has such low regard for women and the vulnerable and owes the State a substantial sum of money should be given ownership of anything.

"Time and time again we have heard how the Church, including the Sisters of Charity, has failed women and children. Now we are being told that they are to be put in sole ownership of a facility that is there for women in what is possibly the most vulnerable time of their lives; this is nothing short of a disgrace.

"We have all seen and heard the devastating consequences of what can happen when religion is put before a woman's needs when it comes to maternity care. We only have to look back as recently as 2012 and the tragic circumstances surrounding the passing of Savita Halappanavar to see that involving the Church in healthcare matters should not be how things are done going forward.

"Lessons from the past must be learnt and it is crucial that this government realises that Church involvement in healthcare must end in the interest of putting the patient first. For too long women have been forced to endure being second class citizens when it comes to healthcare needs and this announcement adds insult to injury. Minister for Health Simon Harris and his government colleagues need to realise that there is no place for religious orders in our publicly funded institutions in 21st Century Ireland and put a stop to this before more women suffer the consequences."


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