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The Government will approve new National Maternity Hospital plan on Tuesday says Taoiseach Michéal Martin

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Taoiseach Micheál Martin.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin.

Taoiseach Michéal Martin confirmed the Government will on Tuesday approve the protracted and divisive plan to build a new National Maternity Hospital at St Vincent’s.

Speaking at the National Famine Commemoration on Sunday, Mr Martin said it is the intention of the government to greenlight the project.
Health Minister Stephen Donnelly will bring the memo to government on Tuesday.

There has been bitter debate around the new hospital’s location.

The new NMH will be located on lands owned by the St Vincent Health Care Group.

The project has been met with significant opposition in the past over fears the Catholic Church could influence the hospital in carrying out abortions, sterilisation or IVF.

The Taoiseach said it “is the intention of government” to sign off on the project this week.

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“I think the Minister for Health will bring the memo again to government on Tuesday.

“I think there has been a good debate, and I think there has been a lot of clarity around the published legal documents, which give very clear legal guarantees.

“First of all, in terms of the ownership – 300 years at €10-a-year in terms of the lease.”

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He said the constitution of the new hospital is “emphatic and very clear in terms of all legal permissible services” being made available.

“Then the additional powers given to the minister in terms of the golden share that he has the powers to ensure that the obligations on the new directors of the new hospital implement the constitution of the hospital.

“There are many guarantees there in terms of all services being made available.

“The other side of this, which is very important in the current circumstances, the physical conditions of this hospital are not suitable, and we do need a modern hospital, and it will take time to build.

“The neonatal centre at the moment is very confined.-it doesn’t do justice to babies; premature babies in particular neonatal units are essential to their survival.

“Equally, women today and into the future deserve better physical conditions than they are currently experiencing in Holles Street.

“I believe this has the potential to be a really modern centre of excellence for women and neonatology.”

However, Sinn Féin Health spokesperson David Cullinane said there has not been one good reason put forward as to why St Vincent’s Healthcare

Group cannot transfer the NMH land to the State,

Mr Cullinane said the best way forward is for the new NMH to be built on public land, given the public is spending such an “enormous” amount of money on the project.

The project is forecast to cost the State in the region of €1bn to construct.

Sinn Féin will this week table a motion calling for the new NMH to be built on public land, and Mr Cullinane said the current proposed deal between

State and the hospital group is “complicated and convoluted”.

“No good reason has been given to me, to many in opposition or to healthcare campaigners as to why we cannot see the transfer of the land from St Vincent’s Healthcare Group to the State, which would remove all of the ambiguity which currently exists,” Mr Cullinane told RTÉ’s This Week programme.

Mr Cullinane said due to “legal ambiguity” around the leasehold the State would have over the land on which the NMH would be built, “we must get this 100pc right”.

“I don’t think it is beyond us [The Dáil] and them [St Vincent’s] to reach a point where we have full public ownership to remove any ambiguity,” Mr Cullinane said on RTÉ’s This Week.


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