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Sisters of Charity give up role in maternity hospital after protests

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The Sisters of Charity are withdrawing from any involvement in the running of a new national maternity hospital in Dublin. The two sisters on the board of the St Vincent’s Healthcare Group (SHVG) are resigning with immediate effect.

It was announced in 2013 that the national maternity hospital would relocate to the site of St Vincent’s University Hospital, founded in 1834 by Mother Mary Aikenhead, founder of the Religious Sisters of Charity. As well as owning the site the Sisters were to have been involved in the management of the hospital, with representatives on the board.

In recent weeks there have been two large demonstrations against the order’s involvement in the hospital, and more than 100,000 people have signed an online petition opposing it.

Protestors have highlighted the Sisters of Charity’s running of the infamous Magdalene Laundries where unmarried young women who became pregnant were incarcerated and maltreated for over a century.

As a hospital owned by a Catholic order, there would have been moral conflict over operations such as abortion and gender reassignment surgery.

In a statement yesterday (Monday) the order said they would transfer ownership to a new charity.

“For the last two years we have been actively working to find the best way to relinquish our shareholding of the SVHG,” said a spokesperson for the Order.

“Although the Sisters of Charity no longer have any direct involvement in the provision of healthcare services, we remain dedicated to preserving the legacy of Mary Aikenhead, whose mission in life was to heal and care for the sick and poor.”