Patrick Murphy: Maternity hospital row another sign Catholic Church in south losing its relevance

The Irish News

Patrick Murphy
29 April, 2017

Did you ever think you would see protests in Dublin against nuns? Well, there were last week, when hundreds of demonstrators assembled outside the Department of Health.

In fairness, they were not protesting against all nuns, just the Sisters of Charity. The reason was that the Dublin government has agreed that the sisters should inherit the earth, or at least a €300 million, state-funded maternity hospital on a part of the earth which the nuns happen to own. Somewhere deep in Irish government there remains residual, religious sentiment.

The protesters have two objections. The first is that the sisters apparently owe the state at least €3 million, as part of their €5 million payment towards government compensation for child abuse in their former institutions.

Opponents of the deal argue that giving the nuns a hospital just because they own the land on which it is to be built, is a bit too charitable.

The second argument suggests that a religious order should not have any role in a maternity hospital in view of its likely Catholic ethos, which would not necessarily be shared by all taxpayers who use the service.

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