Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Health, Stephen Donnelly, has called on the Minister for Health to clarify the governance of the National Maternity Hospital (NMH).

Deputy Donnelly made the call as Dr Peter Boylan, former Master of the National Maternity Hospital, said that it is still up to the Vatican as to whether or not full independent control will be seeded to the NMH on the proposed site. This is contrary to promises made by Minister Harris over two years ago that there would be no religious influence in the new hospital.

Deputy Donnelly said, “Minister Harris has given categorical promises that the new NMH will have full clinical independence, but we now hear from Dr Boylan that this is not currently the case as the Vatican needs to grant full independence.

“Dr Boylan pointed out that no hospital anywhere in the world, on land owned by the Vatican has full clinical independence. His testimony directly contradicts Minister Harris’s assurances up to now.

“I understand that relationships between Minister Harris and the NMH have been strained ever since the High Court’s damming judgement against Minister Harris in relation to an investigation at the NMH.

“In it the Judge stated that Minister Harris had not carried out any investigation of his own.

“Is this latest revelation by Dr Boylan another example of the Minister not doing his homework. He promised the agreement between the State and the Sisters of Charity would be completed and published. He promised there would be absolutely no interference in the governance of the NMH. It appears that none of those things are correct.

“If Dr Boylan is correct, then Minister Harris’s repeated statements to the Dáil are incorrect.

“There can be no question about it, the State is building this hospital and the State should have full control over the governance of this hospital – it’s that simple.

“If the Vatican refuses to relinquish control, then we may have to go back to the drawing board because under no circumstances can canon law dictate the medical services available to women in Ireland.

“I will be bringing this matter before the Health Committee and asking for a full review of what the current status is with regards the NMH”, concluded Deputy Donnelly.