Protests force Sisters of Mercy to withdraw from new hospital
An ‘obscene’ Irish plan to allow the Sisters of Charity Catholic order to have a role in the management of new maternity facilities in Dublin has collapsed in the face of widespread protests.
According to the Guardian, the order that ran institutions in Ireland where women were enslaved and children abused for decades has given up any involvement in running the country’s new national maternity hospital.
After weeks of pressure and public outrage, the Sisters of Charity announced on Monday that it was ending its role in St Vincent’s Healthcare Group (SVHG), the trust set up to manage the new maternity facilities .
In a statement, the Sisters of Charity said it would not be involved in the ownership or management of the new hospital.
It said the two sisters on the board would resign with immediate effect.
Last month, one of Ireland’s most respected obstetricians, Dr Peter Boylan, above, resigned from the board after it emerged that the religious order responsible for running the notorious Magdalene Laundries would exercise influence over the new hospital.
Pat Flanagan, writing for The Irish Mirror, described the plan to allow the Sisters of Mercy a role in the running of the hospital as “obscene”:
Our Government spending €300million of our money to open a Magdalene maternity hospital says all you need to know about Ireland’s attitude towards woman and children.
It’s not that it’s bad, it’s not that it’s mad – it is one of the most obscene acts ever committed by an Irish government and a total insult to the Magdalene survivors … Make no mistake, handing over a hospital into the hands of an organisation that enslaved women is on a par with the dirty deal that let the religious congregations off paying their share of the redress scheme.
After what this order of nuns did in the past they should not be allowed in the same building with women and children never mind owing a hospital which will bring future generations into the world.
Two large demonstrations were held over the last few weeks protesting against the order’s proposed role in running the hospital and more than 100,000 signed an online petition opposing the move.
Many of those incarcerated in the Magdalene Laundries – institutions that were controlled by Catholic orders from the late 18th century and well into the 20th – were young, unmarried women who became pregnant and had their babies taken from them, and in some cases sold to wealthy Catholic couples without children in the US.
In 2013, the taoiseach, Enda Kenny, issued an apology on behalf of the Irish state to the women held in the institutions. Kenny said their maltreatment and exploitation had:
Cast a long shadow over Irish life.
A financial redress scheme was set up in Ireland after an inquiry published in 2009 detailed abuse against children in residential institutions. The Sisters of Charity offered to pay €5m towards the €1.5bn redress bill and inquiry costs incurred by the state, but has so far contributed only €2m.
Overall, Irish Catholic orders have agreed to pay almost a quarter of the bill, but an audit report published in December 2016 found they had still contributed only 13 oercent to the overall compensation costs for victims.
Hat tip: Peter Sykes