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'I’m sorry it’s come to this but I did try to warn you' - Texts between hospital bosses as row deepens

Dr Peter Boylan has refused to resign from the NMH board.

Dr Peter Boylan, a former master of the National Maternity Hospital.
Dr Peter Boylan, a former master of the National Maternity Hospital.
Image: Laura Hutton

THE FORMER MASTER of the National Maternity Hospital has said that he will refuse to resign from its board despite being asked to do so.

Last week, Dr. Peter Boylan went public with his criticism of the decision to locate the new National Maternity Hospital on the site of St. Vincent’s Hospital and place it under the ownership of religious order the Sisters of Charity.

The order’s ownership of the future hospital has led to concerns that Catholic doctrine may influence medical practices.

The decision to approve the move was overwhelmingly backed by the board of the National Maternity Hospital. Boylan is a member of that board and abstained in the vote.

Speaking today on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland programme, Boylan said that he became concerned about the process. He said it was approved by board but not by the governors of the hospital.

“I was becoming increasingly concerned that, as with the passage of the time, that the governors of the National Maternity Hospital, the shareholders, had not been consulted about the deal which one had the impression that it was completely agreed by the National Maternity Hospital,” he said.

“But I’d been assured, the board had been assured, by the deputy chairman that the governors would be consulted and would take a vote on whether they agreed the deal.”

On the programme, a text sent by Boylan to the hospital’s deputy chairman Nicholas Kearns and its master, Dr Rhona Mahony, was read out.

The text from Boylan said he felt they were “inextricably linked” to the Minister for Health on the issue and that they would “either sink or swim together”.

He also said that he felt they were misled by the St. Vincent’s Hospital Group. Part of the message read:

I’m sorry it’s come to this but I did try to warn you. The way out for both of you is to make it clear that you were misled by SVHG. You accepted their bona fides and assurances and were effectively lied to. Both you and the minister are inextricable linked in this and you’ll either sink or swim together.

On the programme, Boylan said the he regretted using the word “lied” in the message, describing it as “a bit intemperate”.

A return text from Kearns to Boylan was also read out.

It said the board decided it was necessary to seek Boylan’s resignation. Kearns said this was due both to his public intervention against the board’s decision and for his “intimidatory tone” in his message.

File Photo Sisters of Charity to be given new National Maternity Hospital (L to R) COO at St. Vincent's University Hospital Kay Connolly, Minister for Health Simon Harris TD and National Maternity Hospital master Dr Rhona Mahony. Source: Sam Boal

The National Maternity Hospital has also issued a statement confirming that it has sought Boylan’s resignation.

“Dr Boylan was a member of the NMH Board at all times during the six month period of mediation which resulted in the agreement of 21 November 2016 to co-locate the National Maternity Hospital with St Vincent’s University Hospital. The Board was kept fully briefed on all developments by the negotiating team during that period,” the hospital said in the statement.

The decisive final meeting of the board overwhelmingly supported the agreement with 25 in favour, two abstentions (including Dr Boylan) and one vote against. Thereafter the agreement was approved by government and planning permission was lodged.Last week, some five months after the agreement was approved, Boylan, without warning, consultation with or notification to the Board, its chair or the master of the hospital, went public in attacking the agreement. Board members have a duty of loyalty to the Board on which they serve and for this reason his resignation has been sought.

Boylan, however, said he would not be resigning.

“I don’t feel I should resign. There’s been questions over loyalty to the board. I feel a loyalty to the women of Ireland,” he said.

Read: Poll backs Citizens’ Assembly on abortion but rejects minister’s maternity hospital promises >

Read: Ex-hospital master to Simon Harris: ‘Ask nuns about their plans for €300m hospital’ >

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