Thursday, 20 January 2022
National Maternity Hospital: Motion [Private Members]
There are two reasons I wished to make a small contribution to this debate. One is to state that I absolutely accept that we need a new maternity hospital. We needed one in 1995 when my daughter was born in Holles Street. Indeed, I well recall being wheeled back from the labour ward and the bed being still warm because the woman ahead of me had just vacated it. My grandson was also born in Holles Street and we certainly needed one in 2015, so I accept that we need a new national maternity hospital. We want it to be built. We understand co-location. With the greatest respect, explaining it to us is not necessary. We understand why it is important.
However, the main reason I want to speak this evening is to recall Sheila Hodgers. Sheila died in 1983, in a hospital run by an organisation known as the Medical Missionaries of Mary. Both she and her baby died. We can debate this all day, but I can say with my hand on my heart that it was the ethos in that hospital that contributed significantly to her death in her 20s and to the death of her baby. She died in agony. She had been denied pain relief for fear that it would in some way harm a pregnancy that was not viable. Her husband, Brendan, who I know well as he is a former colleague of my father, recalls going to see her in the hospital and seeing her screaming in agony. She could not get pain relief. I know what caused that, and the Minister of State knows as well. I echo what was said, that it is regrettable that the Minister for Health is not present. It speaks volumes to anybody who wants to listen, and I do not mean that in a disrespectful way to the Minister of State. I thank her for being here and for her words. I respect that the script she was given is the one she has delivered, but she will also understand that those words will be cold comfort to anyone who remembers Sheila Hodgers.