Simon Harris: ‘I am not giving any hospital to the nuns’

The Minister for Health has vowed that the New Maternity Hospital should not be subject to a Catholic ethos in any way. In intemperate remarks, Simon Harris told the Dáil  “I am not giving any hospital to the nuns”.
The Sisters of Charity are providing the land for the hospital.

Both Leo Varadkar and Simon Harris faced questions on what was described by People Before Profit TD Bríd Smith as a “cold war” between the Department of Health and the boards of the National Maternity Hospital and the St Vincent’s Healthcare Group over the planned hospital’s ethos and ownership. The plan to relocate the National Maternity Hospital at Holles Street in Dublin to the grounds of St Vincent’s hospital has been in the offing for the past 18 months but negotiations are still ongoing with the Minister for Health recently insisting that the board of directors should have an extra director to represent the public interest.

Mr Harris rejected claims by an anonymous hospital source that he was “meddling” in the issue and said the publicr should be concerned that the hospital has “robust governance” and that the State should have a seat at the table when the board was making decisions.

The Minister said the charitable status of St Vincent’s hospital also had to be sorted since “the nuns have said they are leaving” as well as public ownership.