Cabinet ministers have signed off on the legal framework on Tuesday to allow the National Maternity Hospital relocate to the site on Elm Park at St Vincent’s Hospital from Holles Street.
The state will lease the land for a period of 299 years. The site was previously owned by the Religious Sisters of Charity, who’ve since transferred ownership to a holding company.
The proposed move to the St Vincent’s has caused disputatious debate amongst activists with huge fears surrounding potential religious influence over reproductive healthcare.
Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly argued that concerns were addressed: “I think people, very rightly, for the reasons of Ireland’s history, have said there can be no religious influence. That’s guaranteed.
“People want the state to own the building and own the land, we own the state and we own the land in leasehold ownership for the next 300 years.
“It is a very, very strong and positive project, and ultimately, we can’t keep debating these things and discussing these things for more years. We have to get on, we have to build a hospital.”
The phrase “clinically appropriate” in the legal documents around the leasing of the land for the NMH has been at the centre of the debate.
Minister Donnelly also told the media ‘that the term was used by healthcare professionals “all over the system all the time” and it would be worrying only if it was something like “ethically appropriate” or “morally appropriate”.
Opposition to the plans remains strong from both NMH stakeholders and the public.
Meanwhile, Sinn Féin is set to bring a motion to the Dáil next week to compel the government to build the NMH on public land.