It is puzzling to the highest degree how Irish politics – even in 2017 – still colludes with religious organisations. Sure there was a long history of influence and there are still plenty of politicians who still don’t understand that no church or religious organisation should be allowed to interfere with the state, but do we have to wait until they are dead before things will change?

The newest scandal is the fact that the Sisters of Charity, an order of Catholic nuns, will own the National Maternity Hospital (NMH) next to St. Vincent’s Hospital in Ballsbridge. They will not just have some shares or get a percentage of the profit, no, they will OWN the hospital. You might wonder if they will build it or buy it because if you and I own something, we usually have to pay for it? No! They won’t have to pay for it! The fact that they are owning the land on which the National Maternity Hospital will be built seems to be enough to give them ownership. That is shocking!

The Sisters of Charity were one of the religious organisations that proved in the past that back then they were NOT able to look after the welfare of mothers and children. And after the swamp was cleaned, regrettably the Sisters of Charity didn’t provide the compensation payments that they had promised to the “redress scheme”. For many, this is the reason why they are totally against that religious order to own the NMH. I agree that that definitely can’t be ignored, but for me it is even a bigger problem that the separation of church and state should just never allow such intermingling.

Keep the interests separate from each other and you won’t get into dodgy or tricky situations when certain treatments could interfere with religious principles. The Department of Health claims that they are in charge and won’t let anybody interfere, but there can’t be any guarantee for that.

The solution? Buy the land from the religious order! I think the Sisters of Charity should pay what they owe regarding the compensation that they are due, but at the same time, the state should fairly then pay for and afterwards own the land the NATIONAL Maternity Hospital stands on. There is NO other option!