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Today it was announced that the €300m National Maternity Hospital in Dublin will be handed to St Vincent’s Healthcare group. SVHG is owned by the Sisters of Charity, a Catholic religious order with a long-standing history in Irish health and more specifically maternity care. Here’s a quick recap of their exploits in the care industry, for those that aren’t aware.

 

The Sisters of Charity ran the now-infamous Magdalene laundries, in which 30,000 Irish women who had committed the heinous crime of getting pregnant outside marriage were imprisoned by the Catholic Church. These laundries were work camps for profit, using slave labour (for profit), allowing pharmaceutical companies to test experimental medicine on children (for profit), and selling children to childless families “of good stock” in the UK and USA (for profit). Following the discovery of mass graves at one such labour camp in 2013, they were once again raised as a shameful mark on our Republic’s history. Most of those overseeing the camps are too old to be prosecuted at this point of course, however with the last “mother and child home” closing as late as the mid 90s it’s inarguable that – to this day – there are among us people that were compliant in this atrocity.

 

So how have they been punished? Well, despite the Irish state paying out around €1.5 billion euro in settlements to the victims and their families, the Sisters have so far paid a total of €2 million towards the recompense. Again, in case there’s a worry that you’ve read a typo, that’s 2 million from 1.5 billion. They were asked to contribute an unbelievably small portion of the cost to the country of their crimes, pledging 5 million and – in the 8 years since – only actually bothering to pay 2. We were also told that in the wake of revelations of the mass grave at Tuam, the state would not be able to expand the recompense scheme to the victims of the Sisters because of cost. Now the order has been put in charge of  the institution where more pregnant women and newborn children are within their fundamentalist influence than anywhere else.

Today’s statement by the HSE regarding these concerns is visible here. Of particular note is the following excerpt:

The Board of the new NMH will comprise 9 directors; four nominated by SVHG, four by NMH, including the Master, and one will be an international expert in obstetrics and gynaecology.

 

Four of nine board seats by appointment.he justification given for this is that SVHG own the land, which is also why we – you, me, and every other citizen – will be paying rent to this organisation. The same one that owes us money for the monstrous wreck they made of their last involvement in maternity care.. Presumably, the site was chosen for no specific reason at all by the department of health, before they realised that it was owned by SVHG. At this point, in return for use of their land, they were offered the following:

  • Rent
  • Significant influence in management of the hospital

While I’m not the minister for Health (his name is Simon Harris : here’s his email address if you have anything you’d like to say to him),  my proposal for letting the country use the land for the hospital would have been the following:

  • No rent
  • Compulsory purchase order of the land at a price of 1 euro
  • No access to management
  • Demand the money we owe back immediately, failure of which to provide resulting in asset seizure by the criminal assets bureau
  • Immediate and thorough investigation of all mother and child homes (including former sites like Clare st. in Limerick)
  • Prosecution of all that failed to report the crimes committed to an Garda Siochana
  • Maybe – MAYBE – permission to continue to operate in Ireland.

 

Nobody seems to have asked why this religious order seems to want so much influence in a business being run by their new and willing tenants. I don’t think for a second that SVHG would attempt to reintroduce the laundries in a state hospital, however with board seats they can certainly have an influence on policy. Things like rate of caesarian section, access to anomaly scans, et al. Taking aside for a minute their monstrous crimes in the past, can any Catholic organisation honestly claim not to have an agenda here? Does a country with our utterly disgraceful history of maligning women through removal of reproductive rights not need to move now away from this way of thinking?

The government has handed the literal incubator of the nation to a group of people that were willing to bury children in mass graves in a septic tank, at cost to you and me and at profit to them. A group that owes us. A group that can’t be trusted in any way, shape or form. A group seemingly beyond the reach of any law of man or God, whose actions go entirely without consequence. A group that spent the larger part of the 20th century willing to abuse, enslave, and ultimately neglect to death thousands of women and children in order to line their pockets, all under the auspice of their divine right to do so. We needed them you see, to protect us from these terrible “fallen” women and these – a word that should make any decent human grit their teeth – “illegitimate” babies. We needed them to protect us from our sins, and now we’re forgiving, funding, and empowering thiers.

This organisation and its work is nothing more than a tumour on the state’s past. Why are we feeding it?

 

Jimi is the editor of Soapbox.ie. You can contact him here.

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