Saturday, 29 April 2017


Nuns hold all the aces as we fool ourselves into defining Ireland as progressive

RIDDLE me this: how can the National Maternity Hospital’s board lose a prominent member, identified in the public consciousness as someone of integrity who speaks truth to power, and avoid being weakened as a consequence of that departure?
The answer is it cannot fail to be diminished. Peter Boylan was an asset to the Holles Street board, and pressurising him to step down leaves the body looking authoritarian, mulish and dismissive of well-founded public concerns. Meanwhile, many people continue to share Dr Boylan’s scepticism about giving sole ownership and boardroom control of the new maternity hospital to nuns.
Simon Harris needs to take back control. Gifting sole ownership of a €300m publicly funded facility to the Sisters of Charity is not a good deal for the taxpayer. No organisation except the State should own a public facility.
As holder of the purse strings, the Health Minister can stop this flawed proposal proceeding. He should suspend the State’s investment until satisfied the public interest is 100pc safeguarded.
Without doubt, a new maternity hospital is needed, but not at any cost. The new hospital must have a different ownership and board structure. There is still space to change the agreement’s terms, and Mr Harris ought to work towards this before bringing his proposals to Government at the end of May.
Alternatives exist. His challenge is to persuade the nuns to gift, sell or lease the site to the Irish people – one way or another, the State must acquire the land before building there.
Overall, it has been a disappointing week on an issue that will impact on citizens’ health for generations. Dr Boylan’s resignation caused widespread dismay, although he was left in a difficult position when deputy chairman Nicholas Kearns asked him to leave.
The silence from many senior politicians is troubling. The hospital row, despite its religious overtones, has a political element at its core: whether the will exists in Leinster House to tackle unfinished business and divide Church from State.
TDs couldn’t wait to speak out about water charges, but on a matter directly affecting women’s health they are strangely mute. Their reluctance (with honourable exceptions) reveals how little regard they have for women’s health.
Make no mistake, separation between Church and State must happen, and the State will have to drive it – the Catholic hierarchy will not willingly cede power or assets. That’s hardly surprising. But what is not just surprising, but indefensible and illogical, is this simple fact: the National Maternity Hospital at Dublin’s Holles Street is not owned by representatives of the Catholic Church. But the proposed replacement will be. So much for aspirations towards pluralism. We fool ourselves when we define Ireland as a progressive nation.
The nuns hold the aces. They own the land. But it’s high time we had a public statement from the Sisters of Charity specifying why it is retaining the land, or what its intentions are.
The public has every right to be wary of the current deal, both on financial grounds – gifting a €300m public asset to a private group – and on health grounds, giving a potential veto over citizens’ healthcare to a religious group. The Holles Street board is behaving as if Church ownership of a State asset is normal. That is no longer the case. It happened in the past, but such arrangements are no longer acceptable.
As for the board’s peculiar insistence that Dr Boylan’s criticisms equate to disloyalty to the board – in fact, members owe their duty to the organisation and its key stakeholders, ie the hospital and Irish citizens.
It is understandable that Rhona Mahony desperately wants modern facilities for women under her care – it must be professionally and personally distressing to watch patients who should be on an operating table transferred to another hospital, as currently happens. But for Dr Mahony to describe valid reservations as “a storm in a teacup”, “a sideshow” and “a non-issue” is misguided.
The board needs the public to believe it is championing the best possible plan. But the public is unconvinced. Nor is Dr Boylan a lone voice – Professor Chris Fitzpatrick, former master of the Coombe Hospital, has resigned from the project board.
Incidentally, the circumstances surrounding the nuns’ acquisition of this prized land at Elm Park were debated in a Dáil exchange between Dr Noel Browne – a pioneer on the need for separation of Church and State – and then health minister Erskine H Childers on March 15, 1972.
The nuns owned a hospital in St Stephen’s Green, no longer fit for purpose, and were given a State grant to build a new hospital at Elm Park. The religious order agreed to repay the State with the proceeds from the sale of the St Stephen’s Green hospital, but wriggled out of this commitment and kept the money.
Dr Browne asked why it was allowed to deprive the State of sorely needed funds. “Surely this is an extraordinary principle to permit, that an organisation – I do not care who they are, whether they are religious orders or others, lay people do just as good work in hospital services – should be allowed
As holder of the purse strings, the Health Minister can stop the flawed proposal from proceeding, and he should suspend the State’s investment until satisfied the public interest is 100% safeguarded to sell off property, keep the money, and…be given a 100% grant to build a new hospital. Why was it adopted by the minister?”
Mr Childers said: “The Sisters control and operate 1,000 beds in this city in the interests of the poor, the sick, the disadvantaged, the children, the blind and the deaf, and I see no reason why they should not be given the responsibility for disposing of the funds arising from the sale of the St Stephen’s Green hospital in the interests of hospital development.”
Dr Browne said the Irish Hospitals’ Sweepstake was £8m (€9.5m) in debt and tax revenues would have to plug the gap. “In these circumstances, why should special conditions be made in respect of this hospital and not in respect of the many other hospitals that are in just as great need and, indeed, in much great greater need of money than this hospital, because this happens to be a very wealthy order? ”
Mr Childers expressed himself satisfied the Sisters would spend the money well, to which Dr Browne replied: “If they were not the Sisters of Charity, I wonder whether they would get so much charity from this government.”
Some 45 years have intervened since that exchange, along with the revelation of multiple Church scandals. Odd, they haven’t eroded the view in certain circles that Catholic organisations continue to deserve special treatment from the State.


The row over the SISTERS OF CHARITY owning and running the new National Maternity Hospital in Ireland continues.

This is not the first time that these nuns used the state - and were allowed to use it by devout Catholic politicians - and laugh all the way to the bank.

The questions remain:






  1. It is about power, arrogance and power. And it typifies the whore that is institutional Roman Catholicism.

    No unionist worth the name would even consider the remotest possibility of uniting with the Republic of Ireland, given its continued subservience to the whore.

    This is a link to the blog of a disgruntled Irish Dominican. He has lived on his own for years.

    1. Michael Commane's op blog is called occasional scribbles. In it he often takes a swing at his province which he really seems to hate.

  3. Maybe he hates what the Irish Province has become? I am well-acquainted with the U.K. Province, having lived in the parish of one of their major priories for some years. I do not attend them regularly due to the generally cold and disdainful atmosphere present, especially with 'ordinary' lay folk, but I have certainly witnessed their increasingly conservative attitude over time.

    The last Mass I attended there, I watched a dreadfully humiliating incident of a female altar server being publicly admonished in front of a shocked congregation and sent off the altar. It later transpired the celebrant had asked her to serve for a special reason, a matter opposed by his superior, who publicly sent her off. If the Order treats people like this, it is no wonder their houses are closing so quickly!

    1. That's terrible! You wouldn't blame her if she'd had it with the Church! Crumbs, is being female intrinsically disordered too?!! My late father used to say that the girls often made better servers than the boys!

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

    3. More worrying is that she may internalise this and do serious harm to her self esteem, not to mention her relationship with a God who she might now perceive as not loving her or not loving her as much than if she were male! These priests need to recognise that we meet Christ in our fellow woman / man / child, and not in ritual and supposed tradition at the expense of hospitality and love! "Oh that today you would listen to his voice, harden not your hearts!!" 'Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.'

    4. To 9.30 poster
      Totally agree with you. That sending off the altar incident was disgraceful!

  4. I have had a look at Michael Commane's Blog and I recommend it to you Pat. Its a model of what a blog should be, and you should seriously think about emulating his style and content. It is really interesting and has a marvellous mix of religion, politics and ephemera. Also it is notable in that it has very few comments, and certainly none of the vile obscenity that you seem to encourage (by posting) from one of your commentators [sic]. Sad to say, but I shall be following this good ex Domincan's blog from now on, and am sure many of your once ardent followers will do the same once they have a look. So refreshing and challenging.

    1. Sod off, then.

      Bishop Pat, the 'nutter' at 23:08 isn't telling the truth. Commane's blog couldn't hold a candle to yours in terms of intellectuality especially. I checked it out. The phrase 'dull as dishwater' kept coming to mind. No wonder it attracts so few comments. The most I came across for a blog was three. How populist!

      Commane sounds like an old boy down the pub after he's had a few. (I'm sure you get the picture.) If 23:08 goes there (and I'm positive he won't), he'll die of boredom...which would be fantastic since he has bored all of us with his continual whining (bloody oul Ginny) and his threats to go elsewhere.

    2. He is not an EX Dominican. He is still a nominal member of his order living in his own property (no vow of poverty for him). He works as a pastor in St Lukes hospital on the south side of Dublin city. He is impossible to get on with, takes offence at slight thinks and has a distane for gay clergy. His province tolerate him as the seem to be wary of him. Perhaps he knows their Secrets?

    3. "disdain for gay clergy"

    4. Where's the Sunday World when you need it?

    5. Woops! Thank you for the spell check. I will not show any disdain for it!

    6. Aw....nicely put!

  5. @Pat Be calm but vigilant as your enemy the Dominican is prowling around like a roaring lion looking for your followers. Stand up to him strong in gossip and keep us all filled in on the Maynooth saga. His blog is good, but seems to be quite in-house (Dominican). He has more to say about the grammar and syntax of posters he doesn't agree with. In fact he sounds very like the grammar complainer on this blog.

    1. His blog is good?! It's friggin' crap!

    2. Aw!! Go easy now... our gramm

    3. A few years back Commane took a 'leave of absence' from his province. He went to Kerry (where he also owns a house in Castlegregory). It was said he entered into a relationship with a German lady, but 'returned' to the province after the relationship ended. His hatred for all things traditional is well known and he lables anyone who like traditional expression as gay. This led to the joke 'why doesn't Commanes girlfriend wear lace underware? In case Michael thinks she's Gay! Commanes one of these men who should have probably left the priesthood years ago, but probably cannot exist without the safety net of institutional support, even though he hates the institution. Whenever challenged about his behaviour Commanes threatens to write a book cataloguing the scandals of his province. But he won't as he is dependent on the institution he hates. Compared to this situation, Pat Buckley is a pillar of personal integraty.

    4. I think you need a holiday, Magna!
      Do not take mobile phones, IPads or laptops with you! You really do need quiet time and lots of us out here need a break too - from you!

    5. Yiz wud miss 'im sumthin' ratten sose y'wud if he went away. Sure he gives yiz all a wee laugh, dosen ay?

      If he gives yiz any bother, let m'know an' I'll fix 'im. He's a big chile now an' herd fer m' t'reach, but a can still box his ears with the help of an empty vadka battle.

      Ack! Yiz wud luv 'im if y'cud see 'im.

      Maggie Carter (Magna's Oul Ma)

    6. Please, Magna, take your Momma with you too.
      She is almost, but not quite as bad as you!!!

    7. See w'en my Magnus sobers up an' his carers iv gone, am gonna sen 'im roun t'your place t'put manners on y', so a am.

  6. This is Magna Carta's [sic] blog now, Pat surrendered control of it many months ago. Shame that an imbecile like MC should destroy such a marvellous blog that many of us have followed from day one. He is a "spoiler" and always has been. Shame.

    1. Is thon the oul ginny, agean? 14:21, ack, wind her neck in, wud y'?! Yur distubin' the pace on this fine Sunday afternooon.

      Sure c'mon over til my house. Aye think y'need sumthin t'steady them oul nerves a yours. An aye have just the thing.

  7. Why isn't this proposal illegal? It should be. We are talking here of public money. It is disgraceful that such a proposal is even theoretically possible in a country that would call itself 'pluralist'.