The Cabinet has now agreed the legal framework to allow the new National Maternity Hospital to relocate to a site beside St Vincent’s Hospital in Dublin.
Earlier, the Taoiseach said it is “very important” that the plan is approved today.
Speaking on his way into Dublin Castle, Micheál Martin said he had “no doubt that all the guarantees are there in terms of all legally permissible services being made available”.
He said that he was “very minded by the appeals from the clinicians” who work “in the front line of maternity services, not just in Holles Street but across the country, (they are) very clear that this hospital should go ahead.”
Mr Martin said that that “we need a modern centre of excellence for women and newborns.” The process of building the hospital needed to begin as “it would take some years”.
There had been calls on the Government to delay making a decision to allow for more scrutiny of the plan.
Speaking on his way into Cabinet, the Minister for Transport, Eamon Ryan, was asked about the concerns raised by his Green Party colleague Neasa Hourigan last night.
The Dublin Central TD said she continued to have “heartfelt and genuine concern around the pushing through of this deal”.
Ms Hourigan said the Cabinet should “pause this decision for further scrutiny” because “all transactions are built on trust … trust that doesn’t exist right now”.
She added: “I repeat again the need to release all relevant, legal documents related to share transfers from one entity to the other and to either remove ‘clinically appropriate’, clarify it or add rights based language to the documents to protect those receiving services.”
Minister Ryan said he was aware of Ms Hourigan’s concerns but there would be no change to the term ‘clinically appropriate’. It was in the legal documents and clarity had been given on it, he said.
Speaking on his way into Cabinet, Minister for Transport @EamonRyan said he believes the plan to relocate the National Maternity Hospital will be agreed today | More: https://t.co/iD9YHlmp5R pic.twitter.com/MCdWLTA0fU
— RTÉ News (@rtenews) May 17, 2022
He said there had been a lot of clarifications over the past two weeks and “that is a good thing”.
Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly said people had “very understandable” concerns which had been listened to over the past two weeks.
Read more: Timeline of the new National Maternity Hospital saga
He said the new maternity hospital had been discussed for the past nine years and he was now looking forward to “getting on and getting it built”.
Opposition parties have voiced concerns around the term ‘clinically appropriate’ as well as ownership of the land on which the hospital will be built and what this means for its independence.
“The State will own the land for the next 300 years” @DonnellyStephen says the Government has “listened very carefully” over the last two weeks, adding the National Maternity Hospital will be “fully secular” | More: https://t.co/iD9YHlmp5R pic.twitter.com/83apcG0b7S
— RTÉ News (@rtenews) May 17, 2022
A memo will go to Cabinet today that will seek to address those concerns.
It is likely to say that new hospital will offer all legally permissible services for obstetrics, maternity and neonatal care and gender recognition.
But it will state that things such as cardiac and orthopaedic surgery will not be carried out there.
The Government is also expected to establish a National Centre of Excellence for Women’s Health.
The Dáil will this evening debate a Sinn Féin motion calling on Government to secure full public ownership of both the hospital site and building.
Social Democrats co-leader Roisín Shortall said it was a “bad day” for Ireland, adding that the Government had effectively shut itself out of ownership of the new hospital site.
“I think today is a bad day for Ireland”
— Tommy Meskill (@TommyMeskill) May 17, 2022
Additional reporting: Laura Fletcher