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OUT OF ORDER; Backlash over Magdalene nuns forces review of hospital plans.

Byline: BLANAID MURPHY

PLANS to hand over the new National Maternity Hospital to a religious order appeared doomed last night following a massive public backlash.

The board of St Vincent's Healthcare Group confirmed it is to review the status of the project in "light of the current situation".

The move comes after a huge public outcry and a petition which was signed by almost 80,000 people calling for it to be scrapped.

In a statement the board said: "In view of the controversy and misinformation that has arisen in recent times regarding the project, and the views expressed by the Minister for Health and other members of the Oireachtas, the board of St Vincent's Healthcare Group will review the status of the project in light of the current situation."

Just hours earlier a government minister claimed the new hospital must be run by the State and not an order of nuns.

Strains within the Government were showing over the decision to hand over full ownership of the [euro]300million taxpayer-funded facility to the Sisters of Charity, the order which ran the notorious Magdalene laundries.

The Minister of State for Disability Finian McGrath said: "My political position would be very very clear, I am strongly in favour of separation of Church and State.

"And I think that when we build a national maternity hospital, it should be State-run and that is exactly my position and I would not be

surprised if we end up in that position very soon."

Campaigners are concerned the presence of nuns or their representatives on the board could influence medical decisions.

Health Minister Simon Harris has insisted the nuns would not have any say over medical decisions such as abortion despite owning the land and facility.

More than 75,000 people have signed an online petition to block the Sisters of Charity from owning the Dublin hospital when it opens in four years.

Independent TD John Halligan said new laws should be drawn up to allow the Government to take over lands belonging to religious orders who still owe the State money under the redress scheme for victims of historical abuse.

He told RTE's Today with Sean O'Rourke show: "No religious order should have anything to do with a hospital. The Government should take the land from them and compensate abuse victims."

Last night the HSE said: "The minister outlined his position very clearly on this yesterday and remains fully committed to this hugely important project. The minister is pleased NMH and SVHG have agreed to work together to bring this about and he looks forward to working with all stakeholders to deliver this new National Maternity Hospital."

news@irishmirror.ie

No religious order should have anything to do with a hospital JOHN HALLIGAN independent td

CAPTION(S):

WORRY Finian McGrath

ACTION John Halligan

PUBLIC OUTCRY Health Minister Simon Harris with St Vincent plans

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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Apr 22, 2017
Words:479
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