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National Maternity Hospital: Sisters of Charity urge Minister for Health to complete transfer to State

The Religious Sisters of Charity announced their intention to “gift” the land at St Vincent’s Hospital in south Dublin last year.

Image: RollingNews.ie

THE ORDER OF nuns that used to run St Vincent’s Hospital have called on the Minister for Health to complete the transfer of management from them to the hospital’s new, independent management group “as soon as possible”.

The Religious Sisters of Charity were on the Board of St Vincent’s Healthcare Group until 2017, and announced their intention to “gift” the site to the state last year to facilitate the building of the new National Maternity Hospital there.

The land at St Vincent’s Hospital is worth around €200 million, and is owned by St Vincent’s Healthcare Group. It will be transferred from the Religious Sisters of Charity to the newly founded St Vincent’s Holdings.

Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly said yesterday that governance of the new maternity hospital would not have any religious ethos.

In a statement today, a spokesperson for the order said: “Our legal documents to transfer the ownership of St Vincent’s Healthcare Group to the new independent charity are ready. We have done everything in our power to expedite the transfer to the new independent charity, St Vincent’s Holdings, and we call on the other parties involved, including the Minister for Health, to take all actions necessary to facilitate the completion of the transfer as soon as possible.”

“There is much public discussion in relation to the Religious Sisters of Charity and whether we are still, or will be involved in the management of St Vincent’s Hospital, the new maternity hospital or the new independent charity set up to take over the ownership of St Vincent’s Healthcare Group from the Religious Sisters of Charity”, the statement said. “The answer is no.”

“The Religious Sisters of Charity have no involvement now and will not have any future role in the management of St Vincent’s Hospital. We will have no role, whatsoever, in St Vincent’s Healthcare Group, the new independent charity or the new maternity hospital.”

Yesterday in the Dáil, Donnelly reiterated his commitment to ensuring that the new maternity hospital will not have “any governance or influence whatsoever that involves any religious ethos”.

“Services will be provided in accordance with the law, and in accordance with national policy, and that’s it,” he said.

The spokesperson for the nuns said: “The Religious Sisters of Charity own one building on the St Vincent’s Hospital site which is and will remain leased to St Vincent’s Healthcare Group. This will provide income for the continuing work of the Religious Sisters of Charity and the care of our elderly Sisters.”

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The relocation of the National Maternity Hospital from Holles Street to the St Vincent’s site was first announced in 2013. There was widespread anger in 2017 when it emerged that the Religious Sisters of Charity would be the “sole owners” of the hospital.

The Sisters of Charity were among the religious orders that ran Magdalene laundries in Ireland and a spokesperson said the order has met all of its financial commitments under various redress schemes and that there are no payments outstanding.

In May 2017, the Sisters announced that they would be ending their involvement in ownership or management of the hospital.

The sisters had to get permission from the Vatican to give up its ownership of the land.

The order said at the time that the granting of permission marked the final movement towards completion of all legal, financial and regulatory matters involved in the transfer of its 186-year involvement in the hospital.

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