Thursday 22 March 2018

Nuns will have 'absolutely no say' in running of hospital

Professor John Crown says he has encountered a ‘subtle’ religious influence at St Vincent’s Hospital. Photo: Damien Eagers
Professor John Crown says he has encountered a ‘subtle’ religious influence at St Vincent’s Hospital. Photo: Damien Eagers
Niall O'Connor

Niall O'Connor

The clinical director of the National Maternity Hospital has said the Order of the Sisters of Charity will have "absolutely no say" in the running of the facility.

Professor Declan Keane said that treatments such as IVF, sterilisation and potentially abortions will still be practised despite the land being in the ownership of the religious order.

He insisted that medical staff would have "complete clinical autonomy" once the €300m hospital was built on the St Vincent's hospital campus.

"The new maternity hospital at St Vincent's campus will have the ability to practise as we currently do on our current national maternity hospital site," Prof Keane told RTÉ's 'This Week' programme.

"That will include the provision of sterilisations, of IVF procedures, of gender reassignment and, if the law of the land changes in time following last week's Citizens' Assembly, terminations as well."

Read more: Mulvey: It's not possible for nuns to hand over maternity hospital land as it is 'tied up with loans'

Prof Keane said that he himself had practised sterilisation treatments at St Vincent's in the past.

"I'm very sensitive and I'm aware of this discussion over the last two weeks of the public's concerns and it does seem no matter how much reassurance we can give the public, that we believe we will have complete clinical autonomy on the site, that there is still concern that it's moving to a site that is owned by the Sisters of Charity," he said.

"But I am in no doubt that the nuns will have absolutely no say in the running of the new National Maternity Hospital."

However, consultant oncologist Professor John Crown said he has encountered what he described as "subtle" religious influence at St Vincent's.

"I've been asking my colleagues in the relevant specialties 'have you ever been stopped?'

"It's sort of subtle - I don't want people to think it's some sort of Taliban-like theocracy - it's not like that. On a day-to-day basis people would have no awareness of it," he told Ivan Yates on 'Newstalk'.

Independent senator Rónán Mullen said he believed the order had been portrayed as a "sinister force" since the controversy began.

"I think this is a real sad mess. And I think I would prefer if this hospital wasn't being built on this particular site at this stage," he said.

Irish Independent

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