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Economy threatens to delay maternity hospital

  

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The catastrophic impact of Covid-19 on the economy threatens another delay to the long-awaited €350m National Maternity Hospital in Dublin.

It comes after the Vatican announced it had approved the Sisters of Charity transferring ownership of the St Vincent's Healthcare Group to a new independent charitable body.

The move, following years of controversy, paves the way for the new hospital to be built on the campus of St Vincent's Hospital.

The Religious Sisters of Charity intends to gift the land, worth some €200m, and the hope is the transfer can be concluded without due delays.

However, as questions over the ownership and control of the hospital were raised, there is also concern about the ability of the next government to deliver on big State projects.

The full cost is still unclear as the State finances grapples with recession.

A commitment to build the hospital would have to be part of the new programme for government with a clear timetable.

Health Minister Simon Harris was yesterday careful not to put any pledge or timescale on construction.

He thanked the Religious Sisters for Charity for their "extraordinary contribution" and said it will pave the way for finalisation of the legal framework to protect the State's investment. The hospital will have full independence.

A spokesman for the National Maternity Hospital said the "enabling works for the project are close to completion and we look forward to the main build commencing without delay".

It looked forward to a "world-class facility".

Work on a tender document, seeking bids from construction firms, is understood to be complete and ready to go. The Religious Sisters of Charity said formal approval for the transfer of ownership was requested and has now been received from the Holy See.

Irish Independent