Sisters Of Charity To Transfer Maternity Hospital Stakes To Charity

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Today's development, two years in the making, was created to preserve the legacy of the religious order's founder Mary Aikenhead, whose mission in life was to heal and care for the sick and poor, and only came to light today in an unexpected statements by Sr Mary and Chairperson of SVHG James Menton.

This led to the resignation of two board members and a public petition that gathered more than 105,000 signatures against the Religious Sisters of Charity's involvement.

Meanwhile Fianna Fáil said there needs to be clarity on the charitable status of the new national maternity hospital.

It would have seen the nuns give land at Elm Park for the new hospital but retain ultimate ownership under a complex corporate structure.

"For the last two years we have been actively working to find the best way to relinquish our shareholding of the St Vincent's Healthcare Group", Christian said in the statement.

Menton added that the major development reflected the "wonderful legacy to Irish healthcare of the Sisters of Charity" and that it wanted to do everything possible to ensure this vital facility for mothers and babies was developed as quickly as possible. He added that the board, management and staff of SVHG are "absolutely committed to upholding the vision and values of Mary Aikenhead - namely dignity, compassion, justice, quality and advocacy - which result in the best possible outcomes for our patients and their families".

Fiona Crowley, research and legal manager at Amnesty, said it had "been concerned at the proposed involvement in women's health services of a religious congregration whose ethos is inherently antithetical to women's sexual and reproductive rights".

Responding to the claim that because the State is building the new hospital it should own it, he said this argument is "facile and inaccurate".

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There was widespread public outcry when it was first revealed that the religious organization would be given administrative control of the facility.

Ambiguity deepened when Bishop Kevin Doran said the Sisters would have to obey church law as owners of the hospital, regardless of how the facility is funded, and that governance rests with the pope.

In a statement, Dr Rhona Mahony, Master of Holles Street, and Judge Nicholas Kearns, deputy chairman of the National Maternity Hospital, said they believed the Sisters never meant to influence medical care.

"This decision will allow the (health) minister develop a new governance model that ensures clinical independence and autonomy for the new National Maternity Hospital".

Up to now, the board of St. Vincent's Healthcare Group, which oversees St. Vincent's campus and hospital, has included two nonexecutive directors who are members of the Religious Sisters of Charity.

Irish Minister for Health Simon Harris welcomed the "historic" announcement of the change of ownership, describing it as "a very significant development for the healthcare sector".

The Religious Sisters of Charity released a statement on the matter this morning.

The proposal by the Sisters of Charity has the full support of the Board of SVHG.

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