Saturday 18 November 2017

National Maternity controversy: 'This is a storm in a teacup, a non-issue' - Dr Rhona Mahony calls text from brother-in-law 'intimidating'

Dr Rhona Mahony and Dr Peter Boylan
Dr Rhona Mahony and Dr Peter Boylan Newsdesk Newsdesk

The Master of the National Maternity Hospital has admitted she found a text from a board member - who is also her brother-in-law - criticising the decision to move the hospital "intimidating".

Dr Rhona Mahony appeared on this morning's Newstalk Breakfast where she launched a spirited defence of the proposed hospital on the campus of St Vincent's Hospital.

There has been widespread controversy over the decision to give ownership of the new €300m facility to the Sisters of Charity.

Board member Dr Peter Boylan, who is married to Dr Mahony's sister, said yesterday it would be "inappropriate" for the State to invest the money on a new hospital that would have strong links to the Catholic Church.

He revealed he sent a text to deputy chairman Nicholas Kearns and Dr Mahony on Sunday in a bid to "sort things out".

The text read: "'I’m sorry it’s come to this, but I did warn you.

"The way out for both of you is to make it clear that you were misled by SVHG, you accepted their bona fides and assurances...

"Both of you and the Minister are inextricably linked in this and you will either sink or swim together."

Mr Kearns responded later that day asking Dr Boylan to resign from his post on the board. Dr Boylan has refused to step down.

Asked about this on Newstalk Breakfast Dr Mahony said the decision to ask him to resign was not related to the opinions he was expressing.

"He's absolutely entitled to express any viewpoint. This is a matter of corporate governance. He is a member of our board. And when a member of our board speaks out against a decision of the board, they would normally resign before they would do that and then speak out. Peter hasn't done that. He has spoken out as a member of the board and indeed as a member of the board who is very much in the minority in his opinion.

"It has absolutely nothing to do with the opinions he is expressing, it is a corporate governance issue on normal corporate conduct."

She continued: "There was also quite an intimidating text sent to myself and to the deputy chairman and it is on that basis, that the chairman has requested the resignation of Peter Boylan and that is now a matter for Peter Boylan and the matter rests there.

"I found the text intimidating, but I am really not going to read it out."

Dr Boylan abstained during the vote over the decision to move the hospital. Dr Mahony explained that three members of the 25-member board abstained, one voted against and the rest voted for the move.

She said : "It's very important on a board that people vote according to how they feel, that is the primary concern."

Asked if Dr Boylan should have voted against it if he felt that strongly, she responded, "of course".

Dr Mahony repeated her support for the overall move and insisted the that new hospital will be "absolutely an independent entity".

"It will not come under any religious ethos, it will deliver services without religious, ethnic distinction."

She said people must not get lost in a conversation about "supposition or speculation".

"All of the procedures that we perform today, contraception, IFV, termination of pregnancy in the case where a woman is dying will all be performed in the new hospital."

"This is going to revolutionise healthcare for women and children and no side shows must get in the way of this focus."

She added: "This is a storm in a teacup, a side show, a non-issue"

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