Sinn Féin spokesperson on Health David Cullinane TD has warned that reports of a ‘letter of comfort’ around the National Maternity Hospital highlight the need for appropriate scrutiny of the government’s increasingly chaotic plans for the site.
Speaking today, Teachta Cullinane said:
“Reports have emerged that the government has produced a ‘letter of comfort’ for Minister Martin signed by members of St Vincent’s Healthcare Group and Minister Donnelly around the future of the National Maternity Hospital. It is extraordinary that this has been produced at such a late stage, given that the minister was proposing that the cabinet sign off on this last week.
“There is no clear indication as to whether this letter has any legal standing.
“This development highlights the mess that is at the heart of the government’s plans. It also does not address the issue of ownership and the fact that almost a billion Euro of taxpayer’s money will be spent on a hospital where the state will not own the land and where a convoluted legal, contractual and company arrangement is in place.
“It is important that this hospital is not subject to unnecessary delays, however it is also crucial that we get this vital piece of infrastructure right in order to ensure high quality healthcare for the women of Ireland.
“The Oireachtas Health Committee has sought to engage in appropriate scrutiny of the proposals but still hasn’t heard from key players in this situation including representatives of St Vincent’s Healthcare. We also have not had an opportunity to scrutinise this new letter; to evaluate what impact, if any, it will have on the healthcare available to women.
“Given the complexities and concerns that have been raised, and given St Vincent’s Healthcare Group have only recently taken possession of the land, there is a responsibility of the Taoiseach and Tánaiste to act in the public interest and engage in talks at the highest level with St Vincent’s Healthcare Group on the issue of land ownership.
“It is clear that the government’s proposals are poorly thought through and ill-designed. On Tuesday, Sinn Féin will bring forward a motion in the Dáil to compel the government to ensure that the National Maternity Hospital is a public hospital built on public land. It is clear that this is vital, as the government’s chaotic and messy plans have failed to provide reassurance amid the serious ongoing concerns around this arrangement.”