Dáil debates

Thursday, 12 May 2022

National Maternity Hospital: Statements


3:15 pm

Photo of Joan CollinsJoan Collins (Dublin South Central, Independents 4 Change) | Oireachtas source

Yesterday and today the Minister confirmed that there is a lack of trust around the issue of the church. This is not just confined to the past: it is here and now. There was a reference to "red mist" in an earlier contribution. This is a red mist that many thousands of women in the State have experienced.

To my mind there are very serious issues relating to trust in the context of the establishment of St. Vincent's Holdings. I want to refer to the so-called "fact sheet" issued last week by the St. Vincent's Healthcare Group. On the question of whether St. Vincent's Holdings CLG is an offshore company, it says "No" and suggests that the services of PwC were used to form St. Vincent's Holdings. They confirm that St. Vincent's Holdings is an Irish incorporated company, that no offshore companies were used in its incorporation, and that St. Vincent's Healthcare Group comprises only Irish incorporated and resident companies. This is factually incorrect. Two offshore companies, Porema Limited and Stembridge Limited, were instructed by PwC to set up St. Vincent's Holdings. The reasons for using offshore companies generally by companies is to mask the real instructions given in setting up a company. Only those involved in the setting up of St. Vincent's Holdings know what instructions they were given and who gave the instructions.

We do not know the exact nature of the St. Vincent's Holdings. Is there a public juridic person under Canon Law, as are the Sisters of Charity as a religious order? We cannot know the actual facts because we do not have access to the full application made by the sisters to the Vatican. We do not have access to all correspondence to and from the Vatican, and no access to the shareholder agreement between the Religious Sisters of Charity and the directors and owners of St. Vincent's Holdings. We do not know what conditions were attached to the transfer of the assets of the Religious Sisters of Charity in the St. Vincent's Healthcare Group to the St. Vincent's Holdings. These assets, including three hospitals, are estimated at above €500 million. It is inconceivable that the Vatican, having consulted with the archbishop of Dublin, Diarmuid Martin, and the president of the Irish Episcopal Conference and the apostolic nuncio to Ireland, Eamon Martin, would have agreed to transfer such assets to a charitable company without strenuous conditions being attached. The idea that the Government is prepared to do a deal without knowing who or what they are dealing with is simply wrong.

The St. Vincent's Healthcare Group's so-called "fact sheet" is a seven-page document and manages not once to mention or refer to the issue of termination of pregnancy. We need clarification on the issue of what is appropriate medical care. Everybody has said that we need clarification on that. It needs to be stated quite simply, in a legal document, that tubal ligation, sterilisation, gender affirmation, abortion and contraception will be part of the services in the national maternity hospital.


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