Wednesday 18 October 2017

Emily Hourican: Dedicated Mahony feels brunt of media clawback

After a difficult week for the Master of Holles Street, Emily Hourican finds that her healthy perspective on life and work helped her cope

PRESS STORM: Master of the National Maternity Hospital Dr Rhona Mahony claims she has been 'personally vilified' over the last few days and that this has been 'utterly unwarranted'
PRESS STORM: Master of the National Maternity Hospital Dr Rhona Mahony claims she has been 'personally vilified' over the last few days and that this has been 'utterly unwarranted'

Emily Hourican

She is beautiful, articulate, very smart and photogenic – all of which helped swing the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Referendum. But as one political pundit pointed out after the election of President Mary Robinson, she was bound to suffer from media clawback: the principle whereby what the media will give you, they will take back tenfold.

Yet one of Rhona Mahony's great strengths, as a person and a practitioner, is her ability to hold on to perspective, and therefore to self-deprecate. "We come and go. I find that very liberating. I could walk out of here and three weeks later people would say 'who's Rhona Mahony?'," she told an audience of women at a fundraising lunch for the charity To Russia With Love earlier this year. "The institution will keep going, life will keep going. People aren't half as wrapped up in you as you are in yourself!" For someone who works with life, and death, on a constant basis, such perspective is vital.

The past week must have tested that breadth of vision considerably. After four days of media censure and speculation around the apparent "top-up" of €45,000 to Dr Mahony's annual salary, she issued a statement on Friday, explaining that the money was in fact derived from professional fees paid by private clients, and therefore strictly in line with the contract she holds with the National Maternity Hospital, of which she is Master and CEO. Clearly, this is a very different prospect to monies being paid from profit generated by on-site shops, pay parking or fund-raising.

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