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health as it happens

Hotel group founder appointed deputy chair of National Maternity Hospital

The founder of the Dalata hotel group Pat McCann is to succeed Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns as the deputy chairman of the National Maternity Hospital.

Although the Catholic Archbishop of Dublin is the ex-officio chairman, the current archbishop Dermot Farrell has not attended board meetings, meaning Mr McCann in effect become chairman.

Mr McCann has been chief executive of Dalata since it was established in 2007 but is retiring from that role later this year. He said he was “delighted” to be appointed and looked forward to working with the hospital’s Master Prof Shane Higgins “and his dedicated team at Holles Street”.

“It is an honour to be involved in an institution that makes such an important contribution to serving the healthcare needs of Irish women and babies,” he said.

Prof Higgins said Mr McCann would bring “extensive experience at a critical time” for the hospital. The decision to appoint him was made following a meeting of the hospital’s executive committee.

Stepped down

Mr Justice Kearns, a former president of the High Court, stepped down from the role earlier this month. He confirmed his departure just weeks after a fractious meeting in which he clashed with former master Dr Peter Boylan.

Dr Boylan said that in the past there had not been full consultation about the terms of the deal to move the hospital from Holles Street to a site on the St Vincent’s campus at Elm Park.

Mr Justice Kearns said this was “a complete untruth”, sources said, adding that all terms were brought back repeatedly to the board. Following the exchange, a hospital governor Dr Frances Meagher wrote to Mr Justice Kearns to say she was “shocked” at his language and asked him to reflect on how the meeting was handled.

The planned relocation to the St Vincent’s campus has been the subject of political debate in recent months.

‘Outstanding issues’

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar last month said there were “outstanding issues” over the ownership and leasing of the site where the hospital is to be built as well as with regard to governance and State representation on the new hospital’s board.

Talks between the Department of Health and the St Vincent’s Healthcare Group as well the Religious Sisters of Charity, which owns the site, are believed to be ongoing. The department has refused on multiple occasions in recent days to acknowledge or answer queries about the status of those talks.