Cabinet has officially signed off on the new National Maternity Hospital plan.
Ministers approved the governance deal at their meeting this morning, with the hospital set to be relocated from Holles St to the campus of St Vincent's University Hospital.
In the (possibly) closing hours of the debate on the NMH I want to reiterate my heartfelt and genuine concern around the pushing through of this deal and ask that the cabinet pause this decision for further scrutiny. For the following reasons: 1/7 @OurMatHosp #MakeNMHOurs
— Neasa Hourigan TD (@neasa_neasa) May 16, 2022
Ministers like Catherine Martin now say they are happy to press ahead with the plan after getting reassurances that safeguards are in place to block any religious influence on the care provided at the hospital.
Meanwhile the Taoiseach and Minister for Health have continually insisted all legal maternity services will be available at the facility.
Not all Government TDs are convinced, however.
Yesterday evening, Green Party TD Neasa Hourigan called for the decision to be delayed once again, saying trust in the project doesn't exist.
Cabinet delayed its decision two weeks ago to give time for the deal to be further debated and scrutinised.
Critics of the deal questioned why the land was not fully transferred to the State and zeroed in on phrases in the contracts including 'clinically appropriate' - which they warned could cause problems for women’s healthcare down the road.
That phrasing is now set to remain in the contract - with the Taoiseach noting that all services that are legal in Ireland will be administered at the hospital.
Social Democrats co-leader Roisin Shortall says the last two weeks have been “a farce” from Government on the NMH. Lots of talk about consultation and being supportive of change, but nothing really there from Minister Donnelly pic.twitter.com/vfgcKo06PY
— Seán Defoe (@SeanDefoe) May 17, 2022
Meanwhile, Sinn Féin will table a motion in the Dail later calling for the hospital to be build on public land.
Health spokesperson, David Cullinane, says it's not too late for the government to change its approach.
"I don’t believe this is the right framework that is being signed off on by Cabinet," he said.
"It was only last week that Minister Donnelly brought similar proposals to Cabinet which were paused. I don’t see any changes of any description that have been made.
"There has been yes a letter of comfort issued to one Government minister but that letter has no legal standing."
Deputy Cullinane said all the major concerns about the project are a "direct consequence of a failure of the land being brought into public ownership".