Belfast Telegraph

Obstetrician Peter Boylan resigns in dispute over National Maternity Hospital

Leading obstetrician Peter Boylan has resigned over a controversial deal to give nuns ultimate ownership of the country's new National Maternity Hospital.

The respected medic, a former Master at Holles Street in Dublin, revealed his decision to stand down from the board of the current National Maternity Hospital amid a bitter dispute over the ownership and governance of the new 300 million euro facility.

The hospital is planned for a site on valuable land owned by the Sisters of Charity at St Vincent's Hospital in the south of the capital.

The order of nuns is due to be the ultimate owner of the fully state-funded facility under a complex arrangement between the current National Maternity Hospital and St Vincent's Hospital Group (SVHG),

Dr Boylan, who initially rejected calls to resign, told Pat Kenny on Newstalk that the deal was "a scandal".

"I think it's a scandal that in 2017 that the state is going to gift to a religious organisation a National Maternity Hospital, of all things," he said.

"I really do not think that's acceptable.

"My view is shared by an enormous number of people in the country."

Concerns about nuns' involvement in the ownership of the state-of-the-art facility centre on whether their religious ethos will have any sway over clinical care and specifically if women will be able to have terminations if their life is at risk, IVF treatment, sterilisation or contraceptive care.

Ambiguity deepened when Bishop Kevin Doran said the Sisters would have to obey church law as owners, regardless of how the facility is funded, and that governance rests with the Pope.

Assurances were made publicly this week by SVHG that the Catholic Church will not decide on the care of mothers and babies at the new hospital.

The terms of the deal on the new hospital, which was brokered with the Sisters of Charity last November, were supposed to be confidential.

SVHG chairman James Menton described some of the concerns as "continued misinformation and untruthful allegations".

Close to 100,000 people have signed an online petition opposing any role or ownership for the nuns.

There will be nine people on the board of the new hospital - four nominated by SVHG, which is owned by the Sisters of Charity, four by the current National Maternity Hospital, including the Master, and it will be chaired by an international expert in obstetrics and gynaecology.

Dr Boylan said: "The whole structure is flawed."

It is understood the nuns were not asked to sell the site to the state.

A decision on a planning application on the new hospital is due in August or September.

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