Mothers and babies first
Despite the bursting of the Celtic Tiger economic bubble, the Irish baby boom continues unabated. The number of births this year is expected to at least match the 73,724 recorded in 2011.
The continuing increase in the number of births at a time when health budgets are being cut has inevitably put maternity services under pressure.
This is particularly so in Dublin where just three maternity hospitals, the Coombe, the Rotunda and the National Maternity Hospital, are responsible for 28,000 deliveries, almost 40pc of the national total. The situation in Dublin is further complicated by the fact that the capital's maternity hospitals are positively geriatric with even the "new" Coombe being almost 45 years old. This combination of dilapidated facilities and record numbers of deliveries is clearly not satisfactory.