herald

Monday 20 November 2017

Lord Mayor hits out at 'intimidating' meeting over maternity hospital

Lord Mayor Brendan Carr
Lord Mayor Brendan Carr

Dublin Lord Mayor Brendan Carr has criticised the "intimidation" felt by a minority of members of the board of the National Maternity Hospital in Holles Street who failed to back the controversial move to the St Vincent's campus.

The Labour councillor was one of three members of the board who did not re-endorse the agreement to build a new maternity hospital on the St Vincent's site which will be owned by the Sisters of Charity.

Reassured

Speaking of the four-hour meeting on Wednesday night, he said: "All I wanted to do was express my concerns and there was no attempt to address them."

He said he was now considering if he should follow former master Dr Peter Boylan in resigning from the board, but might stay on until his term ends to ensure there are members who speak out.

His comments came as the planned move to build the new maternity hospital on the St Vincent's site was back on track last night.

St Vincent's Healthcare Group voted to approve the plan after being reassured that an agreement worked out with Holles Street would not be changed.

The Sisters of Charity will own the €300m national maternity hospital when it moves to the St Vincent's campus.

The reassurance that the controversial deal underpinning the transfer of the hospital remained unchanged was key to the board's support at its meeting.

The Sisters of Charity had been urged by critics of the deal to transfer the site to the State.

This would mean that the nuns would not be owners of the hospital, removing concerns about the influence of the Catholic ethos on services.

Blind

The board chaired by James Menton, which was attended by the Sisters of Charity, its main shareholders, said St Vincent's and the board of the maternity hospital in Holles Street would now start the next phase of the project.

They will work with Health Minister Simon Harris and officials in translating the agreement into a legal document to secure the clinical and corporate governance structures of the new hospital.

"These legal agreements will be effected in accordance with all of the provisions contained in the agreement mediated by Kieran Mulvey and endorsed by both hospitals," a statement said.

The agreement, published in recent days, has been criticised by some legal experts as failing to provide watertight safeguards that the new hospital will have clinical independence.

In particular, they have drawn attention to the make-up of the nine-person board and the method used to select the international expert who will be a member and have a casting vote.

In his letter of resignation, Dr Boylan said he was quitting the board of the national maternity hospital because he could not remain a member of a body which was so "blind" to its actions.

"I can't remain a member of a board which is so blind to the consequences of its decision to transfer sole ownership of the hospital to the Sisters of Charity and so deaf to the concerns of the public which it serves," he wrote.

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