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Tánaiste says government has not considered alternative sites for the National Maternity Hospital

Varadkar said the government wants to own the hospital, and “ideally the land”.
Jun 24th 2021, 2:10 PM 6,757 19

TÁNAISTE LEO VARADKAR has told Dáil the government has not given examination to alternative sites for the National Maternity Hospital.

The government had decided on co-location of hospitals stating that the “obvious fit and best fit for Holles Street was St Vincent’s”.

He said the government wants to own the hospital, and “ideally the land”.

The hospital is planned for the Elm Park site, and the government hasn’t given examination to alternative sites, he said.

The debate over the hospital have been back in the news in recent weeks, with the St Vincent’s Hospital Group, saying in a statement this week that it should retain ownership of the site on which the new National Maternity Hospital is to be built.

The healthcare group also operates St. Vincent’s Private Hospital on an adjoining site and says that retaining ownership of the NMH site would allow “the delivery of integrated patient care”. 

The new hospital has been in the works for years, with the location of the hospital being confirmed at St Vincent’s Hospital in Dublin 4 in late 2016. 

That site’s ownership by religious order the Sisters of Charity prompted various debates in previous years about whether Catholic doctrine could influence medical practices.

Varadkar told the Dáil today that in 2017 and 2018, “two memos were brought” to government on the National Maternity Hospital, but no memo for a decision on governance or on the 100 lease has yet been brought or signed off on yet.

Dr Peter Boylan said yesterday that he had spoken to former Health Minister Simon Harris last week about an alternative to the site, stating that he was told the government is considering a Plan B on the site in Tallaght.

A spokesperson for Harris said the conversation was private, but confirmed the government’s view that the State should own the land and Harris discussed other land the State-owned in the city. 

Writing for The Journal, Dr Boylan said: “I think this is the most viable solution at this stage. A massive amount of work by my colleagues in Holles St has gone into designing a superb new hospital. There would need to be only minimal change in design were it to move to Tallaght which has all the requisite specialist services, is well served by public transport, and is close to the M50.”

“The time has come to admit the impossibility of an independent state-owned maternity hospital being built at Elm Park and move to plan B.”

Yesterday, Labour’s Alan Kelly said the government should move to nationalise the entire St Vincent’s Hospital campus if the SVHG does not roll back on its position. He said the statement from the group was “insulting” and he said the government needed to stand up to “bullies”.

He said the statement was “two fingers” to the government and the Irish people. 

The Taoiseach said the government “won’t rule anything out” – but added that issuing a CPO for the land, or the entire complex, could run the risk of collapsing the entire project.

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Micheál Martin said the group’s statement yesterday was “not an appropriate response at all”. 

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Christina Finn

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