Thomas Pringle TD

Pringle: The new National Maternity Hospital must be public and it must be secular

Pringle: The new National Maternity Hospital must be public and it must be secular

Independent TD for Donegal, Thomas Pringle, has called for the compulsory purchase of the site for the new National Maternity Hospital site as soon as possible, saying, “hospitals should be state-owned and state-operated”.

Deputy Pringle said: “We have to end the constant privatisation of our services. The new National Maternity Hospital is being constructed with public money. It will be built on publicly owned land. It must be in public ownership.”

Deputy Pringle addressed the Dáil on Thursday evening, to support a motion that his independent colleague, Joan Collins, TD, brought forward, calling for the compulsory purchase of the site. The deputy welcomed the fact that Government will not oppose the motion.

However, he said: “I would like to take this opportunity to strongly urge them to change their position and to CPO the National Maternity Hospital site as soon as possible. It’s one thing not to oppose a motion. It’s another thing to actually do something to make it a possibility.”

The deputy questioned why the State would invest €800 million of public money into a new national maternity hospital and not establish ownership.

He said: “I know that this government would love to privatise all services in this country so that they would no longer be accountable for anything, but when we hand over leases to outside bodies and we let them run our essential services, we give over control on how they are run and what services are provided.”

Deputy Pringle said he had very serious concerns about who the hospital will be leased to and said he was completely opposed “to the suggestion of it being leased to St Vincent’s Healthcare Group or any other religious group, or indeed any other private group”.

He said: “I cannot stress enough that the church has no place in women’s healthcare.”

Deputy Pringle said: “We have given the Catholic Church in this country far too much control for far too long, and we can no longer allow them to have a say in our healthcare, or on how anything else is run in this country. This country has experienced enough pain at the hands of the Catholic Church and such an agreement would only be a step backwards. Women in particular have suffered enough and the Church still has much to answer for in relation to the violence they perpetrated against the women of this country and the decades of hurt and shame they have created.

“Despite the fact that St Vincent’s Healthcare Group have said that ‘there will be no religious or Vatican influence’ we know well that, should they be given the lease for this hospital, they would not provide full healthcare to women. We know this because out of the many hospitals on land owned by the Catholic Church throughout the world, there isn’t a single one that provides abortion services. And the Church not only opposes the provision of abortion, but also opposes the provision of the likes of IVF and surrogacy as well.”

The deputy said: “No religious ethos must be allowed to interfere in the medical decisions made by our doctors and by women on their own bodies. This country decided that those days were well over when we voted to Repeal the 8th in 2018 and I urge the government not to pull us back to a time when women did not have those reproductive rights. We still have a long way to go when it comes to women’s healthcare in this country and we still continue to fail women every single day.”

Deputy Pringle concluded: “Only full public ownership and full public governance can guarantee a full service of reproductive healthcare. I cannot stress enough that the new maternity hospital must be public and it must be secular, and that’s what this motion intends to deliver.”