For Immediate Release
Thursday, 20th April 2017
Maternity service users in Ireland are outraged by the decision to grant ‘ownership’ of the New National Maternity Hospital to a religious order. AIMSI, a consumer lead organisation representing service users, has received an unprecedented number of communications regarding the issue, since it came into the public realm earlier this week.
The association, which has for 10 years represented maternity service users in Ireland, is calling on the Minister for Health, Mr Simon Harris TD, to ensure the interests of women and babies are protected or rethink the entire NMH move.
“We are not denying that a new National Maternity Hospital is needed urgently” said AIMSI Chair, Krysia Lynch, “but a building owned by a religious order, operating via a company ‘owned’ by a religious order is not acceptable to service users.”
Krysia Lynch continued “Women of Ireland of all cultures and creeds, their babies and their families deserve and require care that is independent, follows evidence-based models, and is free from any and all religious, cultural, social or moral constraints.”
AIMSI also note that according to the Department of Health Statement on the ownership of the new National Maternity Hospital, the board will be made up of “9 directors; four nominated by SVHG, four by NMH, including the Master, and one will be an international expert in obstetrics and gynaecology.” This could potentially mean up to 4 nuns representing Sisters of Charity, the landlords, sitting on the board of the new maternity hospital. AIMSI note also that although mediator Mr. Kieran Mulvey didn’t “think it was anticipated” that nuns would sit on the board, nor did he say that it could not happen.
“We, the maternity service users in Ireland, would like to know how this decision came about in the form of publication of the discussion with the religious orders. If those minutes show that the decision to grant ownership to the Sisters of Charity is the only way for this hospital to be built on this land, then we demand a rethink on the location of this hospital” added the AIMSI Chair.
AIMSI maintains that if an agreement is in place which ensures the ethos and clinical practice of the new maternity hospital is protected, including ensuring no presence by the religious order at Board Level, then who owns the land is irrelevant. This is not the case with the current agreement. The proposed 9-person Board structure is not 100% independent as it could potentially seat 4 members of the religious order. Furthermore there are no details as to how the external expert will be sourced or the conditions of their tenure, or who has veto over their selection and continuing presence.
Maternity service users have been given a strong message by the state with this move. A message that the abuse they and their loved ones have suffered by religious orders do not matter. Without bringing the issue of redress into the equation (as it was not included in mediation discussions, which is in itself bizarre) let us not forget the women that have suffered and died in the maternity system because of religious interference in ethos. We all know who they are.
For more information or to arrange an interview please contact Krysia Lynch, Chair, AIMS Ireland on 0877543751 or Emily McElarney AIMS Ireland PRO on 0863856225.