21 April 2017
By Bryan Smyth
Cork MEP Liadh Ní Riada (Sinn Fein) has said the state must rethink its approach to the role of religious orders in running health and education institutions.
The Ireland South MEP was speaking after it was revealed that the government has gifted a €300 million state-funded National Maternity Hospital to the Sisters of Mercy.
“This decision will shock many people and will of course be deeply hurtful to survivors of institutional abuse, especially as the Sisters of Mercy have failed to provide their share of funds to a redress scheme for abuse survivors,” she said.
“While this grossly insensitive decision will of course grab headlines I think it is long past time we had a wider discussion on the role of religious orders in running hospitals and schools.
“Given what we now know about a harrowing legacy of abuse that has still not been properly addressed, as well as changing demographics and increasing secularisation, we must ask ourselves how appropriate it is that we continue to allow religious orders to exercise such undue influence over services that are entitled to everybody as a basic right.
“This decision has the uncomfortable air of the church’s old ‘special position’ in our constitution and a cosy relationship with the government that will not sit easy with many.
“Ireland must continue to move forward as a progressive nation in which basic rights like healthcare are freely available to all on a basis of need and nothing else.”