Secular Sunday #542 – The National Maternity Hospital

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The National Maternity Hospital


Atheist Ireland joined protesters outside the Dáil yesterday to call for the new National Maternity Hospital to be publicly-owned and secular. The Government plans to approve on Tuesday that the State will lease the land and have a minority stake in its governance.

The very fact that the Government has to try so hard to reassure us that the hospital will be safe from the influence of the Catholic Church is itself evidence that the State should own and directly run the hospital.

Whatever assurances it might seem to give, the Catholic church simply cannot be trusted. Not only did they commit appalling crimes against women and children, but State tribunals found that its Bishops positively lied to and deliberately misled them to cover up those crimes.

Atheist Ireland campaigns for a secular healthcare system based on compassion, human rights and the medical needs of patients. The State should remove, not reinforce, the traditional privileges that religious bodies have in our healthcare provision.

We also campaign for a secular education system that treats everybody equally regardless of their religious or nonreligious beliefs; the end of the religious oaths in our Constitution that prevent a conscientious atheist from being President, Taoiseach, or a Judge; and changes to other laws that discriminate on the ground of religion.

As always, you can help Atheist Ireland to continue our work on these secular issues by joining Atheist Ireland as a member, or by asking anybody who you think may be interested in joining us to do so. We are an entirely voluntary body with no paid staff, and we depend on our members to continue our work. You can join Atheist Ireland here.

– Secular Sunday Editorial Team

Éire Aindiach

Éire Aindiach


Chun ár gcuid feachtais a leathnú agus a neartú, tá sé beartaithe ag Éire Aindiach níos mó úsáid a bhaint as an Ghaeilge.
Ba mhaith linn meitheal a eagrú, chun cuidiú le:
  • Polasaithe agus feachtais Éire Aindiach a phlé ar an raidió nó ar an teilifís
  • Cuidiú le doiciméid ghaeilge a scríobh
  • Bualadh le polaiteoirí chun stocaireacht a dhéanamh
Táimid i mbun aistriúcháin a dhéanamh ar dhoiciméid polasaí faoi láthair, agus teastaíonn cabhair uainn le aistriúchán agus profáil.  Más maith leat bheith páirteach san iarracht seo, cur ríomhphost chugainn ag

English translation:

To broaden and strengthen our campaigns, Atheist Ireland have undertaken to make more use of the Irish language.
We are looking to assemble a group of volunteers, to help with:

  • Discussing our policies and campaigns on radio or tv
  • Helping to write documents in Irish
  • Meeting with politicians to lobby them
We are in the process of translating policy documents at the moment, and we need some help with translating and proofreading.  If you would like to assist with this effort, please email us at

Atheist Ireland News

The National Maternity Hospital must be public and secular


There will be a rally outside the Dáil at 2pm this Saturday, 14 May, organised by the Our Maternity Hospital campaign, of which Atheist Ireland is a member.
The very fact that the Government has to try so hard to reassure us that the hospital will be safe from religious influence is itself evidence that the State should own and directly run the National Maternity Hospital.
The State should not cede control over this essential public service to any private body, never mind to a charity associated with the Catholic church, which has an appalling record of human rights abuses and an ethos that opposes reproductive rights for women.
Whatever assurances it might seem to give, the Catholic church simply cannot be trusted. Not only did they commit appalling crimes against women and children, but State tribunals found that its Bishops positively lied to and deliberately misled them to cover up those crimes.
This included inventing different accounts of meetings about child abusers, and using a theological concept called ‘mental reservation’ to justify arguing that when they said they cooperated with the police, they never said they ‘fully’ cooperated.
We should not trust any deal approved by the Vatican, which is the headquarters of a global religion that poses as a quasi-State when it suits its purposes. Its primary mission is not to provide healthcare, but to evangelise people into Catholicism.
Politicians always assure Atheist Ireland that, if they were starting from scratch, they would not have given the Catholic church the influence it has over our schools. So why are they even involving this church in the planning of our new National Maternity Hospital?
Atheist Ireland campaigns for a secular healthcare system based on compassion, human rights and the medical needs of patients. No religious values should be imposed on patients who do not share those religious beliefs.
The State should remove, not reinforce, the traditional privileges that religious bodies have in our healthcare provision. The best way to ensure this is that the State should own and directly run the National Maternity Hospital. Read online...

Waiting for the rally outside the Dail for the National Maternity hospital to be public and secular #MakeNMHOurs

Calling concerned teachers

If you are a teacher and concerned about unwanted religious influence contact Chris at

List of Atheist Ireland Submissions

Buy this book “Is My Family Odd About Gods?”

**Schools Special Offer**
Atheist Ireland are offering the book ‘Is my family odd about godsfree (excluding postage and packaging).  This means that you can get this book for the total price of 10 euro. This offer is aimed at families with school going children, who would like to read this book. This offer is limited to one book per family unit and for postage within Ireland only. Read more…
Have you noticed that your school and your teachers may tell you one thing about religion, while some of your friends and family may have different ideas about god?
If you think that this is a little odd, then this book is for you. Buy this book here.

Lessons about Atheism

Atheist Ireland has published a set of free lesson plans about atheism for children aged 8 and up. We welcome feedback, which we will use to develop the lessons. You can download the lesson plans

Be Good without Gods

Atheist Ireland ‘Good Without Gods’ Kiva team members have made loans of  $36,455 to 1272 entrepreneurs in the developing world. You can join the team here. Before you chose a loan, make sure you do not support religious groups. You can check the loan partner’s social and secular rating here.

Atheist Ireland’s ‘‘ is a place where people can publicly renounce the religion of their childhood. Currently there are 1920 symbolic defections. Many share their reasons for making a public symbolic defection which you can read here

Petition on Schools Equality PACT 

Atheist Ireland currently runs one petition – The Schools Equality PACT. This seeks to reform religious discrimination in state-funded schools. Currently this stands at 4,112 Help us reach it’s target of 5000. Please sign and share this petition if you haven’t already done so. Thank you.

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Thank you for your continued support

Atheist Ireland Committee

Call to Action


Message from Our Maternity Hospital #makeNMHOurs


Dear Friend
With the government set to railroad approval for the new National Maternity Hospital plan, please email your govt. TD’s, Senators and all Cabinet members now and tell them why you want the hospital to be publicly owned and controlled and built on public land.
The Cabinet will meet on Tuesday to approve their plan. It is imperative that the decision to approve is deferred as there are too many unanswered questions and ambiguities around the plan.
Below are some points for you to use to argue for deferring the decision on Tuesday. These points highlight just some of the issues.
The State will not own the building, in spite of what Stephen Donnelly says, the first schedule of the lease agreement states this.
The HSE will have a Leasehold interest, but they will never own in freehold. Leaseholds are subject to conditions and some of these conditions are unclear because of how they interact with the Vatican’s grant of approval to the religious Sisters to transfer their ownership. Even though ownership may be many steps removed from the Catholic Church, it is ultimately Vatican land and as Dr. Peter Boylan has pointed out, there is no Vatican owned land anywhere in the world with hospitals on it that allow procedures and treatments that are against Catholic ethos.
Clinically appropriate
Ambiguous language open to interpretation.  The minister claims this was put in at the request of the HSE, so it can be removed without affecting the deal or it can be defined with a list of procedures including but not limited to and listing the controversial procedures. It should never have been put in. Medical treatment must have a Rights Based approach. Women must have control over the procedures and treatments that the hospital is legally required to provide, not what the doctor believes is ‘clinically appropriate’ Savita would not have died if her expressed need for an abortion had been respected rather than the medics belief that it was not clinically necessary.
Golden Share
Granted to the Health Minister.  We do not know who the future health ministers will be over the next 299 years, what if a minister appointed is opposed to full reproductive, gender and sexual healthcare. Look how Roe v Wade is under threat because of a conservative Supreme Court. The same thing could easily happen here.
Sisters of Charity
Reneged on their offer of gifting the land to the state in 2017. They have now transferred their assets after consultation with the Vatican, into a Vatican approved limited company with charitable status. The company called St Vincent’s Healthcare Group will be the landlord, the landlords will also have a seat on the new board of the National Maternity Hospital.
Board of the new National Maternity Hospital
This will consist of 3 members from SVHG, 3 from the National Maternity Hospital and 3 nominated by the minister for health, so called public interest directors who are bound by law to protect the interests of the company, not the public.  The board can have a quorum of 2 members present or by proxy. The quorum of 2 members can make decisions binding on the NMH.
The Minister for Health could nominate three very conservative members opposed to full reproductive, gender and sexual healthcare as could the SVHG.

We really appreciate your support and your taking the time to contact the govt and particularly the Cabinet. You can find your representatives here.

Opinion and Media

Material on atheism, secularism, human rights,politics,science etc. collected from media and the blogosphere from Ireland and beyond; used without permission, compensation, liability, guarantee or implied endorsement. We aim to include a variety of diverse opinions and viewpoints.


Blogs & Opinions




National Maternity Hospital: It Is Time For A Rethink At The Top


By Niall Stokes


It is profoundly wrong for the State to be in a position where it is scrabbling around to find some kind of fig leaf to disguise the fact that it is fundamentally perverse – and potentially dangerous – to hand any kind of ownership of the National Maternity Hospital, or the site on which it is being built,  to vested religious interests or private individuals. Read more…

Two HSE directors criticise unsatisfactory National Maternity Hospital ownership deal


By Daniel McConnell


The two dissenting HSE board directors who opposed the National Maternity Hospital deal have broken their silence. In a joint statement to the Oireachtas health committee, obtained by the Irish Examiner, Professor Deirdre Madden and Dr Sarah McLoughlin say that St Vincent’s Hospital’s claim that they must retain ownership of the land “is unsatisfactory” and runs contrary to the argument that the location of the underlying freehold ownership has no bearing on the governance or operation of the hospital. Read more…

Coalition apology for ‘historic wrong’ of illegal birth registrations


By Cormac McQuinn


The Government has apologised to people impacted by the illegal registration of births with the practice described as a “historic wrong with deep and enduring impacts”. Minister for Children Roderic O’Gorman made the formal apology in the Seanad ahead of a debate on the Birth and Information Tracing Bill 2022 – a proposed law aimed at allowing people to access full birth certs and other information. Read more…

A saga marked by subterfuge and best resolved by simple CPO.


By Marie O’Connor


After an unedifying week marked by an unrelenting stream of propaganda following the unexpected deferral of the Cabinet decision, yesterday’s poll in the Sunday Independent shows that the plurality of respondents (excluding ‘uncertains’), 45 per cent, believe there will be religious interference in the new hospital. Read more…

Emotional speeches at protest against potential Catholic Church involvement in the National Maternity Hospital


By Yasmin Kelly


The Government has attempted to reassure Irish people that the National Maternity Hospital will be completely free of religious influence if it moves to co-locate with St. Vincent’s Hospital on the South side of Dublin But a huge number of people fear that the insidious nature of religious influence is likely to prevail in the long run, if the plan goes ahead. Read more…



Should Courts Assess the Sincerity of Religious Beliefs?


By Linda Greenhouse


It was no surprise back in March when the Supreme Court ruled that Texas had to oblige a death-row inmate’s wish for the company of a pastor who would pray with him and touch him as the lethal cocktail dripped into his veins. Such execution-chamber companionship was “part of my faith,” the inmate claimed, and if anything could penetrate the Court’s wall of indifference toward the death penalty, it figured to be religion. Read more…

Too Much Church in the State


By Maureen Dowd


During her Supreme Court confirmation hearings, Amy Coney Barrett tried to reassure Democrats who were leery of her role as a “handmaid” in a Christian group called “People of Praise.”The group has a male-dominated hierarchy and a rigid view of sexuality reflecting conservative gender norms and rejecting openly gay men and women. Men, the group’s decision makers, “headed” their wives. Read more…

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Podcasts, Videos and Interviews


Do you host an Irish-based podcast on atheism, secularism, science, skepticism, human rights etc.? Let us know and we will link to it here.


Freethought Radio – The Wonder of Science
The Friendly Atheist Podcast – Churches are turning into MAGA cults

Media Watch

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