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The National Maternity Hospital must be secular

May 14th, 2022 3:10 PM

By Southern Star Team

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EDITOR – The Mother and Baby homes. The Magdalene laundries. Symphysiotomy. The ban on contraception. The Eighth Amendment. Hepatitis C. CervicalCheck. On and on goes the list of outrages perpetuated against women in this country by either the State, the Catholic Church, or both, hand-in-hand.

History has taught the women of Ireland not to trust our health to the State or the Church. The current situation with the National Maternity Hospital, where getting the truth out of the government is like pulling teeth, does not inspire trust, either.

We do not trust the Minister for Health to use his ‘golden share’ veto to force the National Maternity Hospital to provide services that go against ‘Catholic ethos’ when he already allows half the maternity hospitals in Ireland to refuse to provide abortion services.

We do not trust SVHG’s labyrinthine ownership structure which means this taxpayer-funded, billion-euro asset can be sold to third parties beyond State control. We do not trust a religious order that refuses to pay its share of the clerical abuse redress scheme.

Do Micheál Martin and Stephen Donnelly want their legacies to be the next Savita Halappanavar, the next Ruth Morrissey, the next Ann Lovett – another woman dead because Ireland did not care about her health? If not, the National Maternity Hospital must be secularly owned and secularly run.

Lucy Boland,

Rebels for Choice co-convener,



A chance to learn more about clinical trials

EDITOR –  I am writing to advise readers of The Southern Star of a forthcoming free webinar on clinical trials being organised by Cancer Trials Ireland.

Taking place on International Clinical Trials Day on Friday May 20th from 2-3pm, the webinar aims to promote public awareness and understanding of clinical trials.The webinar will feature clinical trial expert, Prof Seamus O’Reilly, on how trials work and how to access them, while previous trial participants will share their experiences of what to expect. There will also be an opportunity to answer any questions that registrants may have about trials. With approximately 25,000 people diagnosed each year in Ireland with invasive cancer, the role of clinical trials in preventing, finding and treating cancer is crucial. Trials can provide early access to drugs not otherwise available. They can save lives and also help improve people’s quality of life.

Cancer Trials Ireland’s Just Ask campaign is all about encouraging patients to ask their medical team if there is a clinical trial that may be suitable for, or relevant, to them.

For a booklet on cancer clinical trials, to find out about the trials currently taking place in Ireland, or to register for this free webinar, email us at [email protected].

Eibhlín Mulroe,

Chief executive, Cancer Trials Ireland,

111 St Stephen’s Green
Dublin 2.

Prison sentences cost us over €60,000 a year

EDITOR –  Two recent editions have included comments from Mr Moriarty on the shortcomings of the legal system, both abroad and here in Ireland. Little can be said to challenge his views, but I venture to suggest his chances of effecting change are close to nil. ‘The law’ is designed to create a public code of conduct by which we hope to prevent fellow citizens from being disadvantaged by its contravention by others.  As he says, it is the penal deterrent that fails us.

We begin by accepting that our society will need to fund the costs of an enforcement agency but, immediately a crime is reported, additional costs of investigation and detection become involved. Any subsequent arrests, aggravated by accommodation and legal aid entitlements, are the precursors to court appearances where the next tranche of expenses rapidly increase in value.  If a guilty verdict is handed down as a fine, there will be admin costs to consider, either for a one-off payment or, to add insult to injury, if the offender asks to pay by instalments.

Custodial (prison) sentences bear a direct cost of over €60,000 per annum but, not only do offenders then find their ‘records’ bar them from subsequent employment potential on release, their dependent families are placed in the benefits system for society to provide.  Depending on the offence concerned, this is the likely situation for the rest of their lives, so we may take a different view of those who say they’ve ‘paid their debt to society’?

When I was a child, prisoners were employed sewing mail bags. It didn’t offset the costs of housing them, but at least it reduced the additional costs they inflicted on the rest of society.

Nick Turner,


The State show own the new hospital outright

EDITOR –  In 2017 over 100,000 people signed a petition opposing the ownership of the National Maternity Hospital (NMH) by the Sisters of Charity.

This figure has probably risen and I think the majority of the people of Ireland want the NMH to be publicly owned.

When we voted in 2018 to repeal the 8th amendment, we did so precisely because we knew the influence of the Church in public matters, particularly around abortion, and women’s rights generally, had been a malign influence in this country and a national source of shame.

Now, in 2022, we must close that sorry chapter in Irish history for good and ensure that provision of healthcare for women is not subject to, or at risk of, any outside influence. Full ownership of the NMH should now be moved to the State. The cost of building and running the hospital is paid for by the State.

I would like to remind people that 25 of the 33 board members are men, including priests and the Archbishop of Dublin. I am represented here in the Cork North West constituency by three male TDs.

None of them will ever require maternity healthcare and none will ever need to have an abortion.

None will need to have cervical checks or to access menopause healthcare services, IVF, or to have a hysterectomy.

We women of Ireland are not going to be reassured by promises that can so easily be broken after decades of mistreatment by the very organisation that owns the site and is involved in the board. The Irish government has always been complicit in these matters by its failure to act, or its tacit support of the Church’s involvement.

Those days should be over. The majority of the public are no longer tolerating it and we are the ones funding the building and the running of the services, and TDs are elected to serve their constituents.

Elizabeth Fleming

Kilmichael, Macroom.

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