Updated: 19/04/17 : 14:24:18
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Online petition to block nuns owning new maternity hospital reaches 18,000 overnight

An online petition to block The Sisters of Charity from owning the new national maternity hospital has got thousands of signatures overnight.

18,000 people have added their names to the protest, set up after the religious order was revealed as the new owner of the facility due to be built in Dublin.

Emily Duffy, spokesperson for Uplift who are behind the petition, said it was rare for such a petition to get so much attention so quickly.

“ This is an issue that people in Ireland are clearly outraged about - it’s rare we see a petition go viral so rapidly, and it shows that people are deeply troubled by the State’s utter disregard for the many victims of abuse which took place in institutions run by orders such as the Sisters of Charity.”

The Sisters of Charity have so far failed to pay their share of funds to a redress scheme for the victims of institutional abuse.

However, the Health Minister Simon Harris has reassured patients they will not have any religious influence in the hospital.

But Ms Duffy says that is only part of the problem.

"Simon Harris has wildly missed the point," she said.

“At a time where the Government claims it won’t be able to expand the redress scheme because of ‘huge financial implications for the State’ - the refusal of The Sisters of Charity to pay their fair share is even more offensive and damaging to survivors and their families," she said.

"It’s hard to imagine what Simon Harris and The Department of Health are thinking, handing over a €300 million hospital to a group with such a history of immoral, untrustworthy, and abusive behaviour.

"Especially since they still refuse to stand up and accept the consequences of this history.”

Link to Petition: https://my.uplift.ie/petitions/block-sisters-of-chairty-as-sole-owners-of-national-maternity-hospital