People Before Profit TD, Bríd Smith has called for a special Dáil debate on the decision of Minister Simon Harris to hand over the new National Maternity Hospital to the Sisters of Charity religious order.
The TD expressed outrage at the timing of the announcement, made when the Dáil was in recess, and has said she will request that the Dáil Business committee allow a full debate on the decision when the Dáil next sits after the Easter break.
Ms Smith said: “This decision is an insult to those victims of church abuse who went to the redress scheme and who know the foot dragging and contempt this order has shown over the last decades in relation to paying up for their past crimes.
“But it’s also an insult to the woman of this country today who are demanding a repeal of the eight amendment and the right to choose. Despite reassurances they know that religious run hospitals will place road blocks on their rights if it contravenes their religious beliefs.”
The TD dismissed the arguments put forward by Minister Harris and others to justify the decision, “is the Minister saying that the order blackmailed the state and threatened not to allow the facility to be built at St Vincent’s unless it was handed over to them? If so why didn’t the state CPO the required land?
“How can independence be guaranteed when the announcement states the hospital is been ‘handed over to the order?’ Telling us that the order has no role in the day to day running of the facility is not reassuring if there are other avenues to enforce its beliefs on the operations and workings of the hospital and the services it provides. These questions need to be answered in the Dáil. We need to hear the minister’s justification and be able to question this”.
Deputy Smith also stated that the whole issue again raises wider questions, “It again forces us to demand the complete separation of church and state and to look at taking all publically funded services, be they in education or health, into publically accountable state run ownership.”