I questioned Minister Donnelly on the Health Committee yesterday. I asked him to MAKE A PUBLIC CALL ON THE SISTERS OF CHARITY TO HAND THE LAND TO THE STATE for the new National Maternity Hospital. State ownership and control is the only acceptable option for the women of Ireland. I also asked a series of questions which included why the govt. can’t source information on (the very inadequate) abortion services in the country while the National women’s council of Ireland can. His answers provide no reassurances for any of us.

Why now? We’ve been asking questions about the new National Maternity Hospital for years, only to be dismissed with a “move on…nothing to see here” type response. Now in the last week it seems all is not well, and there’s variance in government member’s responses to my recent questioning of the status of the NMH project, regarding ownership and control. All the more reason for citizens to come out(safely), Sat 26th, at the Dáil 1.00pm. #MakeNMHOurs.

Our National Maternity Hospital must be kept free of religious ethos. I debated the issue with Varadkar today. Effectively he’s saying ‘it’ll be grand…we have a deal to ensure all services will be available to women’. But the framework he’s prepared to accept has no guarantees. We’ve fought for too long, and we’ve given too much, to base our health needs on nuns on politicians’ promises. Join the Demo June 26

To seriously tackle domestic violence we have to understand its social roots It’s not just a question of individual bad men – it is a product of society that for many centuries has treated women as second or third class citizens, and worse has regarded them as the ‘property’ of men, in particular seeing wives as the property of their husbands. And in a society based on the idea that the rights of private property are sacred we all know that you can do what you want with your property. For decades the state, the courts and the police, have turned a blind eye to violence experienced by women and children under the cover of the well-known phrase “Its only a domestic dispute”. Those days are over now, while around the world women are saying not only “me too” but “no more”. So why don’t they leave? Is the reaction of many people when they hear of the abuse of a woman (mostly it is women, but sometimes men). Fear is one reason, the fear that if they don’t succeed in getting away from the abuser, it will be all the worse for them. And they are right – research shows that some of the most horrific cases of violence are against those who try to leave. But a huge factor is that THEY HAVE NOWHERE TO GO. Ireland has around a quarter of the recommended places of safety for women and children. The situation has become worse during the pandemic – around 2,000 women and 400 children each month since March, seeking refuge from a violent situation. The fact that support for vulnerable women and children is left to charities, is a disgrace. The State should, and could, adequately fund the essential services of providing refuge and support for such women. The fact that they don’t is reminiscent of the Magdalen institutions where the State also wiped it’s hands of responsibility. Shame on successive governments that allow this situation to continue.

I  made several queries at the Dail committee today. Apart from the mess they have made of re-testing, there remain unanswered questions.

Since this time last year, I have been asking what labs gave the wrong results that led to 221 women having their cervical cancer go unnoticed. I believe that labs in the US are the ones involved. They were the cheaper option, a ‘for-profit’ company that failed women like Vikki Phealan. Outsourcing is the root of it. So I’m relieved to know the government intends, eventually, to re-patriate the service. Meantime, I’m still waiting the for the answer.