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TV crews should not be allowed in maternity hospitals when partners of pregnant women excluded, Taoiseach says

It comes after anger at Rotunda series


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TELEVISION crews should not be allowed into maternity hospitals if partners of pregnant women are not, the Taoiseach has said.

Speaking in relation to anger over RTÉ filming in the Rotunda Hospital in Dublin during Covid restrictions, Micheál Martin said there had to be consistency in guidelines for partners to accompany expectant mothers.

“Fathers shouldn't be facing restrictions, partners shouldn't be facing restrictions. I’ve been consistent on that now for quite some time, and I’ve made my view known on that to the chief executive officer of the HSE who was undertaken to make sure that there will be a uniform across the system,” Mr Martin said on day two of the Fianna Fáil think-in.

“I don’t think it’s appropriate that if partners were denied access that TV crews should be allowed in. I think there has to be consistency in terms of decision making. I am not privy to the clinical decision making in respect of the Rotunda, but I do think there has to be consistency.”

Mr Martin said there was a lack of uniformity across the country in respect of access for partners. He said he could understand the anger.

Earlier, Fianna Fáil Senator Lisa Chambers said she was “disgusted to see that programme air” when mums were left alone, and dads were left in the car park. She said RTÉ should have known better than to air the programme. Ms Chambers told the Seanad earlier this year of her “traumatic” birth experience when her partner was forced to leave the hospital due to Covid restrictions.

Health Minister Stephen Donnelly said the Master of the Rotunda needs to answer questions on RTÉ being allowed to film in the north inner city maternity hospital. Mr Donnelly said he was looking into the details of the issue. He said there may be “localised reasons” for Covid infection prevention and control in some hospitals.

The Rotunda Maternity Hospital confirmed that filming for the six-part reality TV show, which showed families as they welcomed babies into the world at the height of the pandemic, took place between November 2020 and January 2021. The crew was not vaccinated and “vaccinations had not commenced at the start of filming”, the hospital confirmed.

Ireland’s vaccination programme did not see its first jab administered until December 29, 2020, with the first vaccinations going to the elderly, healthcare workers and nursing home residents.

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The Rotunda also said that filming in the maternity suites “mainly” took place through pre-installed fixed cameras that were operated remotely, but for a limited amount of filming, “one crew member, or on occasion a compact two-person crew, was present onsite”.

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