I propose to take Questions Nos. 268 and 269 together.
The Government is fully committed to the development of the new National Maternity Hospital (NMH) on the campus of St Vincent’s University Hospital at Elm Park. As such, this project is encompassed within Project Ireland 2040, as well as the HSE Capital Plan 2019-2021.
My Department continues to engage with the NMH and St Vincent's Healthcare Group (SVHG) to develop a legal framework to protect the State’s significant investment in the new hospital. SVHG has agreed to provide the State with a 99-year lease of the land upon which the new maternity hospital will be built, and this will allow the State to retain ownership of the new facility.
The governance arrangements for the new NMH will be based on the provisions of the Mulvey Agreement. That Agreement provides for the establishment of a new company - National Maternity Hospital at Elm Park DAC - which will have clinical and operational, as well as financial and budgetary independence in the provision of maternity, gynaecology and neonatal services. The Agreement ensures that a full range of health services will be available at the new hospital without religious, ethnic or other distinction.
My Department has not had any engagement with the Religious Sisters of Charity or the Vatican in this matter; however, at a recent meeting, the Chair of SVHG advised the Department that the Sisters have requested the Vatican to approve their decision to transfer their shareholding and they are confident that such approval will be forthcoming