Dáil debates

Thursday, 20 January 2022

National Maternity Hospital: Motion [Private Members]


7:45 pm

Photo of Patricia RyanPatricia Ryan (Kildare South, Sinn Fein) | Oireachtas source

It is difficult to follow Deputy O'Reilly talking about somebody who died in that way. However, I thank Deputies Joan Collins and Pringle for bringing this motion forward. It is not the first time we have debated this topic but I hope it will be the last. I am aware that the Minister of State is taking this debate instead of the Minister, Deputy Stephen Donnelly.

The new national maternity hospital is yet another hospital building project on which there is gross overspending. The construction costs are currently estimated at €800 million. The original estimate in 2013 was €300 million. It is now heading for three times the original estimated cost. I am not naive and I understand that the cost of materials is rising but this is ridiculous.

We must insist that the new maternity hospital is fully owned and controlled by the State and reject any agreement that does not achieve State ownership and control of the facility. It is necessary for the Government to acquire the Elm Park site through a compulsory purchase order by the HSE with the approval of the Minister for Health. There are real concerns about the ownership of the site, as well as about the hospital governance. Everybody would accept that we do not want any outside influence or interference in the running of any hospital, but especially not the national maternity hospital. The best option would be for the Religious Sisters of Charity to gift the land to the State. They are saying this is essentially what is being done with the establishment of an independent private charity. Deputy Cullinane referred to this too.

The new national maternity hospital must be built as quickly as possible. It is already seven years behind schedule. It would be better to have a public hospital built on public land and governed by the State but, unfortunately, this Government does not do planning very well. The Government must engage extensively with the Religious Sisters of Charity and the St. Vincent's Healthcare Group to find a solution. All options must be on the table.


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