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Robyn Myna from Athlone protesting outside the Department of Health in April Leah Farrell/

'Complete outrage': Protest against Sisters of Charity owning maternity hospital happening today

A petition against the order owning the hospital has been signed by over 100,000 people.

A PROTEST MARCH against the Sisters of Charity owning the new national maternity hospital will take place in Dublin city today.

Demonstrators will gather at the Garden of Remembrance at 2pm before making their way to Leinster House.

Today’s march has been organised by a number of groups including the National Women’s Council of Ireland, Parents for Choice in Pregnancy and Stillbirth, Justice for Magdalenes Research and Uplift.

The latter organised a petition against the religious order owning the hospital. It has been signed by over 103,000 people at the time of publication.

The Sisters of Charity own the land at St Vincent’s Hospital in Dublin 4 where the new €300 million hospital is earmarked to be built.

Denise Kiernan, who created the petition, will be one of the speakers at today’s rally. She plans to send the petition to Health Minister Simon Harris and the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Public Petitions.

Kiernan told the petition’s popularity indicated the “complete outrage and anger” some members of the public feel about the order potentially owning the hospital, given its previous involvement in institutional abuse.

She added that many people wish to see the separation of Church and State, particularly when it comes to issues such as health and education.

Growing controversy 

The controversy over the hospital’s ownership has grown in recent weeks. The news was first reported by the Times of Ireland in March, and garnered a large political and public reaction after being reported by the Irish Times last month.

Dr Peter Boylan, the former master of Holles Street, resigned from the board of the national maternity hospital over the ongoing row.

Boylan had questioned if certain procedures would be performed at a hospital owned by a Catholic order, such as abortion, sterilisation, gender reassignment surgery and IVF.

The current Holles St Master Dr Rhona Murray and Health Minister Simon Harris have repeatedly insisted the hospital will have complete clinical and operational independence.

90509937 Dr Rhona Mahony, Master of Holles Street, and the Deputy chair of the board Nicholas Kearns after the meeting Eamonn Farrell / Eamonn Farrell / /

At a meeting on 26 April, the Holles St board re-endorsed the deal it struck with St Vincent’s.

In a statement released following the meeting, the board said:

This agreement provides that the clinical, financial and operational independence of the national maternity hospital at Elm Park shall be enshrined in its memorandum and articles of association and all related legal agreements.

Kiernan said some people are not reassured by these promises and fear undue influence from the Church over how the hospital is run in the future.

“I really do believe that we do need this hospital, but it shouldn’t come at this cost,” she said.

Last week the Dáil backed a Sinn Féin motion seeking to legally guarantee clinical independence at the new hospital.

Read: Holles Street board re-endorses deal to move maternity hospital

Read: Mary Lou McDonald says the State needs to get maternity hospital site ‘by any means’

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