Friday 18 August 2017

Banks hold cards in lease deal for maternity hospital

Health Minister Simon Harris
Health Minister Simon Harris
Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

The response of banks to loans linked to St Vincent's Hospital campus in Dublin is believed to be key to defusing the row over ownership of the new National Maternity Hospital.

Health Minister Simon Harris and his officials met with members of the St Vincent's Healthcare Group yesterday to discuss securing a lease which would allow the State to own the €300m maternity hospital to be built on the campus.

The revelation that the Order of the Sisters of Charity, which controls the group, will own the hospital caused a public outcry. This is despite the insistence that an agreement between the existing National Maternity Hospital in Holles Street and St Vincent's guarantees its independence.

The new effort by the State to gain ownership is complicated by the fact that the banks have fixed and floating charges on the entire campus.

The maternity hospital site is in the centre of the campus.

A spokesman for the minister said yesterday that he needs a period of time to talk to both hospitals.

He said: "The minister has asked for a period of time to allow himself and his officials to work with both hospitals to provide further detail on the arrangements which could be put in place to address issues of public concern.

"He has committed to reporting back to Government, the Oireachtas and to the public at the end of the May and will not be commenting publicly in the meantime."

The board of St Vincent's Healthcare Group has 12 members, including two members of the religious order. It is chaired by James Menton, formerly of KPMG, the accountancy firm.

It also includes a number of other top level business people including Myles Lee, the former head of CRH, the building materials company.

Another member is Frank O'Riordan, a corporate law specialist.

Irish Independent

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