Tuesday, 11 December 2018
Order of Business
I thank the Members of the House for their contributions to the Order of Business. All of us this morning stand united in our hope and our desire that the issue of Brexit will be resolved. I again commend the Taoiseach, the Tánaiste and the Minister of State, Deputy McEntee, on their sure-footedness on the issue of Brexit. The decision to postpone the vote in Westminster is the business of the British Houses of Parliament. The deadline of 29 March 2019 still looms. As a country, we have worked with our European colleagues and friends to reach the deal that was presented to all parties involved. The Taoiseach and Mr. Donald Tusk spoke yesterday. It is fair to say that all of us recognise that the withdrawal agreement is the best option for us and that it should not be renegotiated. As I said here before, there is no such thing as a good Brexit. I hope that when the Heads of State meet again this Thursday, they will recognise the importance of Ireland.
Senators Clifford-Lee and Bacik raised the important issue of the National Maternity Hospital. It is important to acknowledge the concerns people have about this new campus. I also ask Members to recall the remarks made last Saturday by Dr. Rhona Mahony on the Marian Finucane programme. Dr. Mahony spoke about the fact that the religious order in question did not ask to be and will not be involved in the running of the new hospital. She also stated that canon law will be irrelevant to the new facility on the campus of St. Vincent's hospital. I take great comfort from the words of Dr. Mahony, the outgoing master of the National Maternity Hospital. She is somebody I have worked with and have seen at close hand. It is important we understand that the religious order in question has not sought to be involved and it does not have any involvement. The land has been given free of charge.
A contract deadline is due on 31 December. It behoves everybody to ensure that contract is signed. The terms of the agreement reached by the St. Vincent's Healthcare Group and the National Maternity Hospital on the relocation to the Elm Park campus refer to there being a national maternity hospital. The new company will have clinical and operational, as well as financial and budgetary, independence in the provision of maternity, gynaecological and neonatal services. In 2017, the Sisters of Charity announced that it would not have ownership or a role in respect of the St. Vincent's Healthcare Group. I welcome that historical decision. This is a significant investment by the Government. It needs to be prioritised and I hope that it will happen. I will be very happy to have the Minister for Health come to the House in due course for a debate on that issue.
I support the point made by Senator Clifford-Lee on public interest directors in all aspects of what we try to do. Some of the public interest directors we have had in the banking system have actually done a good job for the State. She is right, however, that more independent public interest directors need to be involved. They can do a very good job for the State. I concur with her on that.
Senator Conway-Walsh sounds a bit like the prophet of doom and gloom. She is similar to the prophet Jeremiah in the Old Testament when it comes to farming.