National Maternity Hospital controversy: Huge petition on 50 metres of paper as hundreds protest ownership
AROUND 1,500 people marched in Dublin city centre today against the ownership of the new National Maternity Hospital being given to the religious order the Sisters of Charity.
The protesters gathered at the Garden of Remembrance on Parnell Street before marching to Government buildings.
The demonstration was organised by the National Women’s Council of Ireland, Uplift and Parents for Choice in Pregnancy and Stillbirth.
Amongst the crowd was Gerry Kelly (75) who came up from Waterford for what he called “a massive issue.”
Mr Kelly said he was “fed up with the church and its influence on the state.
“Taxpayers money going into the hospital does not equal religious ownership of the new hospital.
“I came up for day just for this and it’s just one big issue which is part of a number of problems with the church,” he said.
Also in attendance was Aoife McArdle (43) and her three-year-old Daughter Clara from Phibsborough in Dublin.
Ms McArdle said the issue “disturbed her greatly.”
“I work everyday and want to support my daughter in anyway I can and I can’t help it if the Church will have a say in the running of the national maternity hospital.
“The Church has to go by canon law and how they are supposed to run a maternity hospital then, the two don’t go hand in hand,” she said
Protesters carried a petition with 103,700 signatures - on 50 meters of paper - demanding that ownership revert to the public for the €300m taxpayer-funded hospital.
Campaign organisation Uplift presented the viral petition printed on 50 feet sheets of card to the gathered crowd.
Siobhan O'Donoghue, Director of Uplift said "We are sending a huge people powered message today to Simon Harris that he has only one real choice regarding ownership of the National Maternity Hospital - it must be kept in public ownership".
Rachael Prendergast-Spollen (43) from Cork, said “I don’t want any of my taxes going to essential services which are run by religious orders or even any private order for that matter.
"What I want to know is what the order is doing insisting on ownership if they don’t have any clinical oversight,” she said.
Lorraine McCarron (37), from Glasnevin, was also out on the march with her daughter Rowan (10).
She said “it is absolutely ridiculous . It’s a huge issue and not just about the hospital.”
“The whole health service needs to be looked at properly. I have a daughter and I worry about the country she will grow up in,” she said.