Yet despite the public, medical and political uproar he has continued to defend his position, saying that the new NMH will “have clinical and operational independence in the provision of maternity, gynaecology and neonatal services, without religious, ethnic or other distinction, as well as financial and budgetary independence”.
How can he say this when medical staff in Ireland are already working under untenable conditions?
They are unsure what medical treatments they are allowed to provide to pregnant women, because of the Irish constitution and because different hospital boards (for religious reasons rather than medical) take different stances on certain treatments.
There is a profound and urgent need for a new NewMaternity Hospital . The Holles St building is aged and not fit-for-purpose, but any connection to a religious organisation will make the planned €300 million state-of-the-art brand new maternity hospital also unfit-for-purpose.
The people of Ireland need an independent, not-for-profit hospital where best medical practice is the base of every decision.
It is terrifying that in 2017 something other than this could be proposed.
The Citizens’ Assembly has recommended that the Eight Amendment be repealed and abortion allowed in Ireland.
This will change maternal medicine in Ireland, this goes against Catholic religious teaching. Abortion is just one of many medical treatments that religion and medical fact disagree upon.
Harris says the Sisters gave the land for free; if they “gave” the land why is ownership of a hospital built by tax-payers money going to be handed back to them?
Even if the Sisters of Charity had an unblemished record, this would seem dodgy. In fact their record as care-givers and educators is tarnished beyond repair or forgiveness.
The Sisters of Charity is 1 of the 18 religious organisations complicit in the systematic abuse of children for decades in Ireland; abuse which cost the state €1.5 billion in redress. To date they have only paid €2 million of the paltry €5 million share they “agreed” to pay.
It is 1 of the 4 institutions which ran the horrendous Magdalene Laundries within which 30,000 women were abused and an estimated 1600 died; and not a penny was given by the Sisters of Charity to their victims.
The HSE has moved against them twice over the past 18 months due to severely critical HIQA reports into the conditions of the facilities and the treatment of the patients (one facility in Kilkenny and in the other in Cork).
They have also failed to hand over ownership of Waterford’s Sacred Heart hospital to the HSE despite this forming part of the indemnity agreement in 2002.
Financially they owe the state (the taxpayer) millions and cost the state (the taxpayer) many millions more; yet they have a property portfolio worth millions and have even gambled shares of our public hospitals on the stock market.
They have no moral high ground to stand on, or any record of compassion and medical professionalism that could somewhat validate Harris’ decision.
The State should remove the Sisters of Charity from the equation completely. They should take the land from the Sisters of Charity and build the new hospital without delay. The women of Ireland deserve this.
The Sisters of Charity deserve nothing in redress.