Sunday, 30 April 2017



The idea of handing Holles Street over to the Sisters of Charity ‘just breaks my heart’ — Dr Peter Boylan tells Maeve Sheehan

UNDER-PRESSURE: Dr Peter Boylan in his south Dublin home where he spoke to Maeve Sheehan. Photo: David Conachy

ACCORDING TO a story told by Dr Peter Boylan, he and Dr Rhona Mahony were not always so divided on the future of the National Maternity Hospital. Dr Boylan, a former master of the hospital, and Dr Mahony, the current Master who also happens to be his sister-in-law, had offices beside each other in the crumbling Holles Street building.
The plan to move the hospital to a new state-of-theart building co-located on the grounds of St Vincent’s Healthcare Group’s Elm Park campus had started and stalled. St Vincent’s, which is owned by the Religious Sisters of Charity, wanted ownership and ultimate control of the maternity hospital.
St Vincent’s was playing “hardball”, insisting the National Maternity Hospital submitted to ownership and control. “We had a lot of discussions about negotiating with St Vincent’s who were playing very hardball. Minister [Leo] Varadkar was very supportive of the National Maternity Hospital position,” said Dr Boylan. “But then after Simon Harris was appointed [last year], that all seemed to change. Minister Harris, on his first weekend, said: ‘I will deliver this hospital.’ That was all fine. He appointed Kieran Mulvey [a professional mediator].”
Dr Boylan claims that in May last year, Dr Mahony asked him to write to the Minister for Health and to the board of St Vincent’s Healthcare Group “expressing concerns about the nuns’ potential involvement” in the National Maternity Hospital. He says he was asked to write because he was chairman of the Institute of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.
Dr Boylan says he duly wrote the letters. But since the agreement was drawn up last November, he and Dr Mahony are no longer on the same side of the fence. “It would appear her concerns have been allayed by the proposed agreement. Mine have not obviously,” says Dr Boylan.
Dr Mahony denies this ever happened. In a statement to the Sunday Independent, she says she did not ask him to “write to St Vincent’s Hospital or the minister in relation to nuns. The correspondence referenced and other public statements made by the institute at that time were not made on behalf of the hospital and this was made clear publicly at the time”. The statement says she had asked him in his role as chairman of the institute to give his opinion on governance structure being proposed by St Vincent’s, and that was in March last year.
Dr Boylan is in the sunny, book-lined kitchen of his south Dublin home. Harry, the Irish terrier, bounds in after his morning walk with Jane, who is Rhona’s sister.
He insists that his personal and family life is strictly out of bounds. He is friendly and speaks with calm and level delivery, which probably belies the personal toll of this row. He says he never wanted it to become personal, but personal it has become.
He is at the end of a twoweek storm which began with him giving a radio interview expressing his fears about religious interference if the Sisters of Charity are given ownership of the maternity hospital.
Dr Mahony and Nicky Kearns, the National Maternity Hospital’s deputy chairman, shot back, accusing Dr Boylan of spreading inaccuracies and misinformation, and stressing the urgent need for a new building.
Things came to a head last Sunday when Dr Boylan texted Dr Mahony and Kearns, claiming they had been misled by St Vincent’s. Kearns texted back, asking him to resign. He did after last Wednesday’s board meeting when the executive directors overwhelmingly endorsed the terms of agreement — including the obstetricians. Dr Boylan, a Sinn Fein councillor and a Labour Lord Mayor were the only three against. The day after the vote, Dr Boylan resigned.
“What’s in it for me is pressure, stress. You know, the easiest thing would be to say nothing, to go home. It is interfering in my life in a major way. So there is nothing in it for me. This is for women,” he says.
“I spent my entire career trying to make things better for women’s healthcare. To have spent my entire professional life in Holles Street and then to see it given over to the Sisters of Charity just breaks my heart. These are important issues. What has helped me is the overwhelming support from right around the country and abroad. It’s just overwhelming.”

Image result for cardinal connell

Shortly after he became master of Holles Street in 1991, Dr Boylan was once summoned by Desmond Connell, the late Archbishop, and ordered to stop performing tubal ligations.
“I went up with the matron at the time. We got out of the car and we were shown into a room with Archbishop Connell and I think it was Bishop Moriarty sitting across the table from us. He said: ‘You can’t do tubal ligations.’ I said: ‘We can’.”
He recalls Archbishop Connoll then said: “Well, you’re to stop” — to which he replied: “Well, we’re not.”

Few obstetrician would disagree with Dr Boylan’s view that healthcare should be provided without religious restriction. Where he and Dr Mahony vehemently differ is in whether the terms of agreement that will underpin the relocated hospital in St Vincent’s will ensure religious influence is kept at bay. The terms of agreement — revealed first by the Sunday Independent last weekend — were hotly debated last week.
Under its terms, St Vincent’s will have 100pc ownership of the new National Maternity Hospital at Elm Park. Decisions affecting the hospital’s clinical independence can only be altered with a unanimous decision by the board of directors, plus the agreement of the health minister.
The nuns will own the building and the company but it can only be used as a maternity hospital — they can never sell it or use it as collateral against a loan because the State will have a lien on it. Dr Boylan has gone through it line by line and taken issue with most of it. The question he keeps asking is why do the nuns want to own a hospital that would be required to perform procedures that are at odds with their Catholic ethos?
One source close to the talks insists St Vincent’s requires ownership for the smooth operation of the vast campus at Elm Park — it fears having a separate legal entity on its own grounds could have serious implications for the campus’s future development, by objecting to planning applications, for instance.
Dr Boylan claims St Vincent’s is interested in the €300m it will get on its balance sheet. He claims there’s no reason why the footprint of the hospital could not be transferred into the ownership of the State. As it is, St Vincent’s doesn’t own the Breast Check building on its grounds.
Sources close to the negotiations say that the National Maternity Hospital did raise this in negotiations. St Vincent’s insisted that it was a small, peripheral building on the boundary of the campus that didn’t really impact on its activities. The National Maternity Hospital, on the other hand, would be right at the heart of its campus.
Dr Boylan claims the board’s independence is also “fragile” — a director approved by St Vincent’s will effectively hold the casting vote.
Does he trust any of the provisions in the terms of agreement? He pauses for a second and laughs: “No.”
With the endorsement of the board of the National Maternity Hospital and similar unanimous backing from the board of St Vincent’s last week, the deal appears to be going ahead. The terms of an agreement will be worked into a legal document in the coming weeks, under the auspices of the Department of Health.

Pressure is mounting on Simon Harris — whom Dr Boylan claims sided with St Vincent’s in the talks, enabling it to play hardball — to revisit the issue of ownership.
Sinn Fein will be tabling a motion demanding public ownership of the hospital this week and Micheal Mac Donncha, a Sinn Fein councillor on the NMH’s board who voted against the agreement last week, says: “The ball is now in Simon Harris’s court.”
Dr Boylan hasn’t had much public support from his colleagues. Two former masters, Sam Coulter Smith of the Rotunda and Professor Chris Fitzpatrick at the Coombe, have supported him. Prof Fitzpatrick was on the development board overseeing the National Maternity Hospital move. He resigned that post last Thursday in solidarity with Dr Boylan, describing the arrangement with St Vincent’s as a “forced marriage”.
Dr Coulter Smith told the Sunday Independent that there is no ethical interference in the three maternity hospitals now and that must be maintained. “There is a huge swathe of opinion, a lot of people, who have difficulties with a religious order having ownership of a maternity service. In an ideal world, this would not happen,” he says.
One obstetrician claims that doctors don’t have a great record of challenging the status quo, particularly the HSE and the minister. Dr Boylan says he understands: “A lot of people are reluctant to put their head above the parapet because if they do, the next thing you know you have a lot of journalists ringing you.”
Meanwhile, the wave of public concern continues to gather momentum.
Krysia Lynch, of the Association for the Improvement of Maternity Services Ireland, said the association has been “inundated” with calls from women looking for clarity over the role of the Sisters of Charity in the hospital.
Niall Behan, chief executive of the Irish Family Planning Association, told the Sunday Independent it was questionable for publicly funded institutions such as hospitals to have “conscientious objections” about certain services.
The Sisters of Charity could help ease concerns. The order has made no public statement, bar an ambiguous quote obtained by The Irish Times from Sister Agnes Reynolds, a 79-year-old nun who is on the board of the St Vincent’s Group, who declined to say whether her order’s ownership of the maternity hospital would influence medical care.
A Sisters of Charity document dated 2010, which was unearthed by one newspaper last week, makes things clear. It outlines the sisters’ hospital rules: no morning-after pill, no vasectomies, no sterilisations of women; no invitro-fertilisation and a commitment that “life” is to be protected from conception onwards.
The agreement shows no signs of being thrown off course. After a brief wobble on St Vincent’s part, both sides seem more united than ever in driving through the much-needed facility. The cabinet has endorsed it, despite Dr Boylan’s misgivings. Lawyers are poised to begin work on turning the agreement into a legal document.
The argument is no longer just about whether the National Maternity Hospital can offer independent medical care to women on the St Vincent’s campus. It is a broader one of religious influence on taxpayer-funded heath facilities. The National Maternity Hospital’s plans for co-location don’t have to be sacrificed to in this debate. The nuns could relinquish ownership, says Dr Boylan. “That would solve everything.”
‘The easiest thing would be to say nothing, to go home’
IT was Gay Byrne who first brought Simon Harris, until then a young man in an old man’s suit, the quintessential young Fine Gael nerdy-type, into the public imagination.
That was not that long ago, actually — in January 2016. The then 81-year-old Gaybo was just back on RTE’s Lyric FM after an illness, a recuperation which he obviously had spent listening to radio.
He spoke so admiringly of the then 29-year-old Minister of State with responsibility for the Office of Public Works, who was touring areas affected by flooding at the time, that you began to wonder whether there was something you had missed.
Harris left Gaybo “gasping in admiration”, in fact. Harris was a “smart young cove”; “very, very impressive. He has an answer for everything. He’s afraid of nobody.”
Really, what so impressed Gay Byrne was that Harris was relatively eloquent, in a cognitive or broadcaster-ly fashion: “Because he has a tongue fast enough to stay with his extremely agile mind, there is a never a hesitation when he speaks. It comes out at least 200 words a minute,” said Gaybo, contrasting Harris’s style with unnamed captains of industry who hem and haw their way through Morning Ireland.
Further contrast this, however, with Harris’s ability as a politician, a fully rounded politician that is — as opposed to a young man in a hurry; ability tested and found to be lacking since the ‘Smart Young Cove’ landed in the Department of Health after the last election.
Here are a few facts to be going on with: despite having received an extra €1bn, hospital waiting lists continue to break records every month; the winter initiative of his predecessor, Leo Varadkar, was tried and failed last year, but Harris repeated it this year to equal if not greater abject failure, and progress on free GP care has stalled even though funding is in place for those aged six to 12 years.
With a record like this, his promise to cut scoliosis waiting times to four months by the end of the year seems foolish, at best.
In recent weeks, however, Harris has spent more time on social media attempting to mollify critics of his decision to sign off on the gifting of the proposed new National Maternity Hospital (NMH) to a religious order than on seeking to understand the core of the issues raised.
This is the real problem with Simon. His cognitive abilities are undoubted. Indeed, there are few to match his mental processes of perception, memory and reasoning, but when it comes to emotional intelligence, well, he has always seemed to fall short in that area.
Not that you would notice. The health minister always — repeat, always — passes himself off as having a firm grasp of what we might call the feelings involved in any particular situation, but in a practiced way, as if he knows he has a deficit and then over-compensates.
You may recognise the moment: brow furrowed as though to show understanding, a nod of the head, a reasonable tone and then seek to blame somebody else. The more he practises it, the more transparent it becomes. This is not to say that he lacks empathy, only that he has to dig deep to find it as a politician, and when he does, he primarily presents it in a manner that has stood his career in good stead to date.
And what a stellar career it has been, until now.
In 2002, for example, he canvassed with the then Fianna Fail minister, Dick Roche in Wicklow — in gratitude for assistance for his brother, who has Asperger’s — before jumping ship to Fine Gael, where he supported a family relation, John Bailey, in a fractious and unsuccessful 2007 general election campaign.
His appetite whetted, Harris stuck with Fine Gael, and contested the 2009 local elections in the Greystones area of Wicklow on the back of a pledge to reform the expenses regime at local and national level. He won the highest percentage vote of any councillor in the country, although Wicklow councillors still draw down comfortable expenses, to which they are entitled, of course.
It was not to be the first Harris volte-face, perfectly executed, which would advance his career.
On the eve of the 2011 general election, he wrote to the Pro-Life campaign to state: “I am happy and proud to assure you that I am pro-life.” In answer to direct questions, he stated in writing: “Yes, if elected to the Dail I will oppose any legislation to introduce abortion to Ireland”; and, “Yes, I will support legislation that protects the human embryo from deliberate destruction and I will oppose any legislation that does not.” He needed number one votes “so I can be in a position to support these positions in Dail Eireann”.
However, once elected, and under pressure from the Fine Gael leadership, he said he wanted the right to abortion extended to women whose babies have fatal foetal abnormalities, describing their situation as “appalling”, and he also said he believed a referendum on the Eighth Amendment would probably be required to widen the grounds for abortion to these cases. Abortion is a complex issue and people are entitled to nuance their views. Harris defended his position in an article in the Irish Independent in 2012, stating: “If you think about it, even those terms ‘prolife’ and ‘pro-choice’ are so heavily charged with emotion and persuasion.”
He probably wrote that newspaper article himself, having studied at the Dublin Institute of Technology, where he is stated to have graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism, a course which he himself has never actually said he completed.
In any event, he is now in the firing line at the centre of the NMH row, his undoubted conservative leanings, as evidenced by his proud pro-life position in 2011, under question in relation to the decision to hand over the hospital to the Sisters of Charity.
Former NMH master Dr Peter Boylan has claimed Harris “let St Vincent’s dominate” in the negotiations with the NMH after his appointment as minister. He contrasted his approach with that of Leo Varadkar. “When Leo Varadkar was minister, he put a lot of pressure on St Vincent’s. Then, when Simon Harris came in and appointed Kieran Mulvey as mediator, the pressure on St Vincent’s eased and went on to Holles Street. I think Simon Harris let St Vincent’s dominate.”
In the entire debate, it seems to be lost on many that there is precedent of sorts: to establish the new Children’s Hospital, three voluntary hospitals, including the Sisters of Mercy at Temple Street and the Archbishop of Dublin, at Our Lady’s Hospital in Crumlin, moved to a Stateowned site and gave up their patronage. The board at the Children’s Hospital will be statutory. Similar accommodations were reached at the Adelaide and Meath hospitals and at Beaumont also.
At St Vincent’s, Harris has presided over what has all the appearance of a significant policy backwards step, to co-locate and give ownership to a religious trust and privately appointed board.
Be that as it may, Harris is unlikely to be in the Department of Health for much longer. Indeed, if the Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan is to be believed, the ‘Smart Young Cove’ can not wait to get out.
“He hasn’t announced yet,” said Flanagan in an internal Fine Gael text message in February, in relation to then speculation that Harris intended to throw his hat into the party’s imminent leadership contest. Indeed, Harris has not been shy in publicly expressing a view that his callow youth should not disbar him from being considered to succeed Enda Kenny, to whom he has always made himself close.
“Frances is encouraging him,” Flanagan added, a reference to the almost maternal-like relationship that he is said to have with Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald.
“He wants out of Health,” concluded Flanagan, to the surprise of nobody.
As it turns out, Harris is supporting the leadership nomination of Simon Coveney, with whom he worked closely to put together the minority government, presumably, colleagues say, because he believes Coveney will win.
That said, there is said to have always been a certain animus from Harris towards Leo Varadkar, the other leadership contender, which some liken to a little brother-big brother fraternal relationship. “It’s all a bit weird,” said a source (with emotional intelligence) who has observed both at Cabinet. That said, perhaps the only thing that can be read into Harris’s positioning of himself alongside Coveney is that Fitzgerald does not intend to throw her hat in the ring.
One thing is for certain, though; as the smartest young cove of the lot, Varadkar would never have allowed a situation to arise where the nuns were perceived to have a hold over him and then run scared in the face of a social media backlash, failing to try to explain or even stand his ground.
Should Varadkar actually win the leadership contest, it may be that Simon Harris will finally get to meet himself coming back, the first setback in a political career which has, so far, owed more to expediency than conviction. row that does nothing for public confidence in the country’s maternity services.
Harris could be right that the nuns, or what’s left of them, won’t influence the clinical decisions made in the maternity hospital if it moves to St Vincent’s. And he could be right that the order won’t profit from the location of the hospital. He may have considered that a wholescale reassessment of the Church ownership of where the State delivers those services was beyond his brief.
He wanted to deliver a deal, and such a review was unlikely to build a hospital or to deliver value for money.
But in trying to do the right thing, he forgot about the politics. It is likely he’ll succeed in getting a new maternity hospital, but Simon Harris should learn the lessons from what has been an inglorious political failure.
‘There is said to be a certain animus from Harris towards Leo Varadkar’


I'm a little bit surprised that more comments have not been made on this blog with regard to the SISTERS OF CHARITY wanting to control Ireland's new National Maternity Hospital.

In today's piece above from the Sunday Independent we see that Cardinal Desmond Connell sent for the Master and Matron of the old maternity hospital to interfere in its workings !!!

I am VERY CONCERNED about the continued interference of the Catholic Church in Irish political and social life.

Nowadays a lot of it is being done SECRETLY.


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:





Thursday, 27 April 2017


Altered image of church as Limerick goes priestless

‘‘ It was excellent, a change from the ordinary Mass. We still prayed. You miss holy Communion all right.

  About 150 lay people replaced priests on altars yesterday morning across the Catholic Diocese of Limerick for the first time in its 900-year history.

  The entirely lay-led Liturgy of the Word morning church events took place in the diocese’s 60 parishes, as every serving priest in the diocese attended a clergy conference with Bishop of Limerick Brendan Leahy to discuss, among other things, a more inclusive church fractured by abuse scandals.

  Masses took place later in three parishes.

  The practice of lay-led liturgy ceremonies is commonplace in other European countries, but yesterday marked the first time it involved an entire diocese in Ireland.

  Each service saw lay ministers lead congregations in 20-25 minutes of prayer and hymns. The sacrament of Communion was not permitted, as no priest was present.

  The seeds of change began at 10am at the 158-year-old St John’s Cathedral in Limerick city.

  As the church bell sounded, the 200-strong congregation stood up from their seats. But, instead of a male priest presiding from the altar, as has been the norm for more than a century and a half, three local women appeared in front of the marble and alabaster table to lead the congregation.


  It was a “proud” moment for all three.

  “I love every block, and brick, and blade of grass here,” said Caroline McDonagh, who helped to lead her congregation in their faith from the same altar where she was baptised.

  Along with her fellow lay leaders and Eucharistic ministers, Sharon Collopy and Trish Kennedy, she returned the applause the three women received from their fellow parishioners afterwards.

  “It was an honour to be asked to do it . . . and the reaction we got from the congregation, with a round of applause at the end, I think, said it all,” said McDonagh.

  They were “nervous” ahead of their task, but “pleased” their roles were “met with such approval”.

  None of them would go so far as to give their blessing for female priests.

  “I’d rather not get into that one at the moment, to be honest. I’m just very happy that, as a lay minister, I’m fulfilling what I need to do at the moment,” McDonagh said.

  Could she see a day when lay people would fill the entire role of priests, saying Mass, serving Communion and hearing Confessions? “I don’t. But, again, you never know. The day might come, but I don’t think it will in my lifetime.”

  For Collopy, it was “a privilege to be part of it”. She felt no pressure to perform the role of a priest but also said “it is important for us to be here to support the priests, and for me being a woman, being part of this morning’s liturgy, isn’t it wonderful I can be here within my own role – as a woman, as a layperson – who is here to support the priest and support the community?” Kennedy, a Eucharistic minister of 25 years, agreed. “Whatever we can do to support the priests, we are very happy to do it.”


  However, Kennedy believed the congregation missed receiving the Eucharist.

  “They are so used to coming to their daily Mass and having Communion every day, [so] it would have been very strange for them. But, I’m sure that, going forward, there will be a case where you could have a daily liturgy where we won’t have Communion, so unfortunately it’s something that is going to happen down the line.”

  The majority of the congregation, a mix of middle-aged and older people, did indeed miss Holy Communion. One of the longest-serving parishioners, Mary Reale, who also performed a Gospel reading, felt the liturgy was “beautiful . . . but there’s nothing on earth that would replace the holy Mass”.

  She described the downturn in priest numbers as a “wake-up call” for the church. We need more vocations; we’ll have to pray hard.”

  Dominick Lipper (81) was in agreement: “It was lovely, but you miss the Mass, in particular going up to get Holy Communion.”

  John Brennan (67) didn’t miss the presence of a priest. “It was excellent, a change from the ordinary Mass . . . We still prayed. You miss Holy Communion all right; you have to have a slice of bread.”

  Ger Cowhey (85) favoured a “traditionalist” Mass format. “I liked that, but I’d rather have the priest. There was no men there preaching . . . What does that say?” 

However, he was still impressed with the format, and quipped: “I’ll come again. It might not be my thing, but I’ll go along with it.”

  Salvador Slattery (78) was undecided on the “strange” service. “Yes I liked it, it was strange . . . but, I suppose it’s going to be [the] thing down the line. You miss the Communion, the body and blood of Christ, and the priest. Often the priest goes on too long too. I prefer the short sermon, about 10 minutes.”
  Small step
  A diocesan spokesperson said “there are 108 Limerick diocesan priests; 73 are in active ministry, 65 of those in parishes (eight in non-parish roles) and 35 are retired”.’
  Speaking on Limerick’s Live 95FM, Bishop Leahy acknowledged Catholics “will feel the pain of not having the Mass”, but he said he expected more lay-led services becoming the norm into the future.
  “This is a step that we know we have to start moving into. It’s a first step and a small step; it’s not going to happen every week. It’s a first step to training for the future.”


So the cure for the future desert of priests is to withdraw all priests for a day and deprive the people of Holy Communion ???

To me this shouts: GIMMICK !!!

There are fewer and fewer priests being ordained and that shortage will soon be a pandemic.

So apart from ordaining totally unsuitable sexually promiscuous gay men as priests they think the answer is a day of priest famine?

No thought of inviting the 250,000 priests who have left to think of coming back into active ministry?

No thought of inviting suitable married men to train for priesthood?

No thought of inviting women (more than half the population of Catholicism) to offer themselves for priesthood?

Instead - gimmicks ! gimmicks ! gimmicks !

And all this while 50% of the world's Roman Catholic parishes have no resident priest and no accesibility to Holy Communion?

This literally is "fiddling while Rome burns".

The RC Church does not deserve priests.

God and Fate will deprive them of their male pretend celibate priests.

Ii will also help to kill off clericalism.

Wednesday, 26 April 2017


FATHER CHRIST DERWIN is leaving the priesthood according to my sources in the Archdiocese of Dublin and Maynooth Seminary.

Fr Derwin has been something of a controversial figure in the context of Maynooth and in the context of various "happenings" in the two parishes in which he has served - Balbriggan and Tallaght.

In Balbriggan the parish priest and the archbishop set up CCTVto watch the comings and goings at the presbytery.

In Tallaght there was a mysterious burglary of the presbytery.

Fr Derwin has also been friends with Deacon Jack "Gorgeous" Byrne and Deacon "King Puck" Jones.

Below we see a picture showing Fr Derwin with Gorgeous and Diarmuid "Coddle" Martin in the sacristy of the controversial Bray parish where Gorgeous served.

We have also learned from Listowel parishioners that Fr Derwin was a regular visitor to Listowel to visit King Puck who is currently the Listowel deacon.

A well placed Dublin priest who drew my attention to Fr Derwin's rumoured departure from the priesthood told me today:

"I think in the departure of Chris Derwin from the Dublin Presbyterate we are seeing the beginnings of the cracks in a very unfortunate situation that Archbishop Martin has been presiding over for a number of years now. 

This situation involves the increasing alienation of the majority of Dublin's priests from their archbishop and the increasing policies of the protection of a small number of diocesan priests and seminarians who have, for whatever reason, enjoyed the protection of an archbishop who seems to have lost the plot.

This situation could easily bring the archbishop into disrepute and could very easily cloud his legacy as well as much the future very difficult for his successor. 

Many priests believe that Archbishop Martin is creating the archdiocese's future scandals by his strange and unexplained policies. Just as we now look back on the reign of McQuaid, Ryan etc with horror and sadness we could easily find ourselves embarrassed by the legacy of the Martin era".

I believe that this very senior Dublin priest is right.

We are witnessing before our eyes new "dark days" for the Irish Catholic Church.

When these things come to pass we will not be saying: "I TOLD YOU SO".

We will however be feeling sad that reason and right did not prevail and that the Body of Christ was wounded so unnecessarily :-(


Irish Labour Party leader Brendan Howlin says State must have full control of hospital



  An alternative site for a national maternity hospital must be found if a deal whereby the State has full control of the facility cannot be brokered, Labour leader Brendan Howlin has said.

  Mr Howlin was speaking at the end of his party’s conference in Wexford yesterday in response to assertions by the Bishop of Elphin, Kevin Doran, who said the Sisters of Charity, the congregation that owns the site of the planned hospital, would have to apply Roman Catholic teaching in the new facility.


  Bishop Doran told the Sunday Times: “A healthcare organisation bearing the name Catholic while offering care to all who need it has a special responsibility . . . to Catholic teachings about the value of human life and dignity, and the ultimate destiny of the human person.”

  When asked in August 2013 by The Irish Times if St Vincent’s University Hospital would carry out abortions to save a woman’s life, a spokesman said the hospital would “as always be following the law of the land”.

  That statement was made amid controversial comments by then Fr Kevin Doran, in which he said the Mater hospital would not be able to comply with the new Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act.

  He was then a member of the Mater hospital’s board of governors.

  He told The Irish Times at the time that “the Mater can’t carry out abortions because it goes against its ethos”, and that he would be concerned that the then minister for health, James Reilly, “sees fit to make it impossible for hospitals to have their own ethos”.

  Board of governors

  Ultimately Fr Doran resigned from the hospital’s board of governors after it decided the Mater would comply with the Act. He said he was resigning, “largely because I feel a Catholic hospital has to bear witness . . . to Gospel values alongside providing excellent care.”The Mater was one of two Catholic voluntary hospitals on the list of 25 approved institutions – the other being St Vincent’s University Hospital.

  Mr Howlin said it may be necessary to transfer ownership of the national maternity hospital to the State.

  “That means the transfer of the site from the ownership of the Sisters of Charity to the State. I think that a deal could be brokered on that basis, with full ownership and democratic control vested in the State thereafter.

  “Or we have to look for another site.

  “It is certainly not acceptable for any doubt to even exist for bishops now or into the future to say that they have any influence.”

  Religious ethos

  Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin said the proposed hospital had to be free from any specific religious ethos. Mr Martin called on Minister for Health Simon Harris to be “fully transparent’’ relating to the entire process.

  He said the Minister had clearly endorsed the agreement in November, but now appeared to have abandoned that position.

  “The Minister also needs to be transparent in terms of the deal done,’’ Mr Martin added.

  He said the taxpayer should have the investment of huge sums of money reflected in the ownership of any facility being provided.

  He viewed the whole matter with some degree of concern, and took on board the “passionate articulation’’ of master of the National Maternity Hospital Holles Street, Dr Rhona O’Mahony, that without question it was not fit for purpose.


Maternity hospital critic told to resign from board by text message

 Irish IndependentEilish O’Regan and Conor Kane

  THE outspoken former master of the National Maternity Hospital in Holles Street, Dr Peter Boylan, has been asked by text message to resign from the board.
  Dr Boylan, who is a strong critic of the decision to allow the Sisters of Charity to own the new €300m national maternity hospital, told the Irish Independent he was asked to resign last Sunday. He said the text was signed by the deputy chairman Nicholas Kearns and the current master of the hospital, Dr Rhona Mahony.
  “I got a text on Sunday afternoon from Mr Kearns and the Master of the Rotunda,” he said. “It is shooting the messenger to ask me to resign. Telling me ‘you are out’ is not going to advance the hospital.”
  Dr Boylan, who is a brother-in-law of Dr Mahony, retired as an obstetrician last year. He said that it is important to have a board with “diverse opinions”.
  THE outspoken former master of the National Maternity Hospital in Holles St, Dr Peter Boylan, has been asked by text message to resign from the board by his deputy chairman Nicholas Kearns.
  Dr Boylan, who is a strong critic of the decision to allow the Sisters of Charity ownership of the new national maternity hospital, confirmed to the Irish Independent last night he was asked to resign “by text” last Sunday.
  He said the text was signed by Mr Kearns and the current master of the hospital, Dr Rhona Mahony.
  “I got a text on Sunday afternoon from Mr Kearns and the Master of the Rotunda,” he said, adding that he has not responded to it.
  It comes in the wake of the outcry over the decision to give ownership of the €300m hospital to the Sisters of Charity, who own the St Vincent’s Hospital campus in Dublin where it will be located.
  Dr Boylan said last night he intends to attend a meeting of the Holles Street board tomorrow afternoon.
  “It is shooting the messenger to ask me to resign. Telling me ‘you are out’ is not going to advance the hospital,” he said.
  He also said the agreement between Holles St and St Vincent’s has not yet been put to the governors, who are the shareholders of the healthcare facility.
  Dr Boylan, who is a brother- in-law of Dr Mahony, retired as an obstetrician last year. He said that it is important to have a board with “diverse opinions”.
  A spokesman for the hospital said last night Dr Boylan was a member of the board at all times during the six-month period of mediation which resulted in agreement last November to co-locate the National Maternity Hospital with St Vincent’s University Hospital.
  “The board was kept fully briefed on all developments by the negotiating team during that period.
  “The decisive final meeting of the board overwhelmingly supported the agreement with 25 in favour, two abstentions (including Dr Boylan) and one vote against.
  “Thereafter the agreement was approved by Government and planning permission was lodged. Last week, some five months after the agreement was approved, Dr Boylan, without warning, consultation with or notification to the board, its chair or the Master of the hospital, went public in attacking the agreement.”
  During an interview, with RTÉ’s ‘Morning Ireland’ last week, Dr Boylan, suggested that the Sisters of Charity would bring a strong religious influence to the practices at the new National Maternity Hospital.
  “The state is investing €300m of your money and my money in a new maternity hospital and it is inappropriate that that hospital should have a strong religious influence, particularly from the Catholic Church, with all its bad history in relation to women’s healthcare,” he said.
  Yesterday Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald called for “the utmost clarity” on the future governance at the new hospital.
  The Justice Minister said the days of “interference by religious authorities” in maternity services are in the past.
  She said she believes there will be “significant progress” in the coming days on the issues that have “arisen” and that Health Minister Simon Harris is working on achieving clarity.
  “What I would say is that the time for interference in any modern maternity hospital for the future, any interference by religious authorities, that time is in the past and for the future, clearly, women and the country need clarity and that’s what the minister (for health) is working to ensure we have,” she said.
  “People want a modern maternity hospital that’s working to best clinical practice and the religious orders and the Church have nothing to do with it or with the decisions that are made for women.”
  More than €5m stands to be lost if the controversial deal to move the National Maternity Hospital to the St Vincent’s campus collapses.
  The public funding has already been spent in preparing to move the maternity hospital from Holles Street to the Dublin 4 site.
  Around €100,000 has been paid to An Bord Pleanála as part of the planning application.
  The board of St Vincent’s Healthcare Group will meet later this week to review its involvement in the project in light of the public outcry.
  Dr Rhona Mahony has said an agreement between the two boards allows for full independence for the maternity hospital and it will provide all services that are legal in the State.


At this stage in time I am really pissed off by the absolute arrogance of the Irish Catholic Bishops and their efforts to force their religion down the necks of the Irish state and people!

If I had the power to do so I would bring in laws that took all institutions in Ireland OUT of the hands of these bastardos.

I would look at how much the state paid them over the years to run these schools and hospitals and how much money and assets they now have and strip them back to the point where they had enough to live on and nothing more.

I would not give the Catholic Church ANY MORE MONEY and I would make sure that they were banished from public life as much as possible.

If they wanted to run Catholic Schools and hospitals I would let them pay for them and make sure that they complied with the law of the land in every respect.

If Catholic parents and patients wanted to support these private institutions I would give them some tax allowances - but restrict these allowances.

Ireland has been a bishop and priest ridden country and THAT HAS GOT TO END!

Let them restrict their teaching and preaching to the private realm - the home, the church and things like Sunday schools. 

Let them STOP telling the Irish State and the Irish People what they can do in bed, in schools, in hospitals.

The morality and ethics of the country should be decided by the vote of the people.

If the bishops and priests want to tell their Catholic followers how to vote etc - that is their business.

I wish the Irish State would get these monkeys off our backs !!!