Social Democrats candidate for Wicklow, Cllr. Jennifer Whitmore has pledged her support to the campaign calling for the new National Maternity Hospital to be kept in public ownership. Whitmore’s pledge comes as current government plans will see the new €350m hospital effectively owned by the St. Vincent’s Healthcare Group.

“As Spokesperson for Children for the Social Democrats, I add my support to the campaign to retain full public ownership of what will be a vitally important asset of health infrastructure and one which will have enormous consequences for women and children in this country.

“I have repeatedly called for the Government to act in the interest of women’s health when it emerged over a year and a half ago that ownership of the new maternity hospital was to be gifted to a private Catholic company. I added my voice to the public outcry at the time reminding the Government of their duty to ensure separation of church and state in maternity care and in healthcare overall.

“Despite the Government’s attempts to address these concerns, their current negotiations with St. Vincent’s Hospital Group appear to fall short of guaranteeing full public ownership of the new hospital. As it stands there will be no independent clinical governance of the new facility, compromising the future provision of women’s maternity care.

“This is unacceptable, particularly in light of recent health scandals and the questionable quality of women’s healthcare in Ireland. It is imperative that the Government responds by ensuring the new maternity hospital is fully owned by the public and that independent clinical governance is ensured. Only then will the health needs of women be fully met in this country”.

“I would also encourage those in the community who are concerned about this issue to join the “Campaign against Church Ownership of Women’s Health” when they march on the 8th December in Dublin City centre. This is an important decision that we must get right”, concludes Whitmore.