Why is the National Maternity Hospital being co-located at the St. Vincent’s University Hospital campus? Why not at another tertiary teaching hospital location not under overt religious control?

Press release issued 26 May: embargoed until 12:00 h [updated 15:30 h]

A Holy Mess!

Why is the National Maternity Hospital being co-located at the St. Vincent’s University Hospital campus? Why not at another tertiary teaching hospital location not under overt religious control?

Dick Spicer and his son, Norman, believe that the State is acting improperly in funding the move of the National Maternity Hospital (NMH) to the St. Vincent’s University Hospital (SVUH) campus. They have decided to challenge this decision in the High Court.

The plaintiffs                                                                          

Dick and Norman are both angry and dismayed at being put in the situation whereby they have to seek remedy, at law, for the failure of politicians to live up to their obligations under the Constitution. That a pensioner and a young married man (hoping in time to avail of the maternity services of the state) should have to take it upon themselves to undertake this action is a sad commentary on our republic. The proposed siting of the NMH on the SVUH campus is a gross example of political failure. It is almost impossible to believe, given the past history of Church-State dealings and the damage caused to thousands of women that this proposal could emerge from a government which knows the many negative outcome from church control of health care in the area of reproductive rights. Savita Halapanaver’s death should have given the Minister for Health and the Cabinet good pause for thought.

We hope that this action of ours will focus politicians’ minds on the absurdity of the proposed location with a Roman Catholic religious order firmly in control of the entire campus and with healthcare professional staff required to conform to a medical ethics code informed by Canon law precepts. We hope that this action will lead to a genuine re-think of how the co-location is to be organised. What we would like to emerge from today is the clear understanding that there are viable alternatives to the SVUH site, which has the same advantages of co-location and none of the disadvantages, i.e. Tallaght or St. James’ Hospitals, which are both tertiary teaching hospitals with the essential gynaecology specialism. We are asking politicians and public to focus on this simple fact and spare us the burden we have felt obliged to shoulder by virtue of this action.

The State

All taxpayers and citizens, especially those planning a family, should be concerned by the failure of the State to ensure that this huge investment be under direct State control. By gifting the Sisters of Charity with a capital asset of such magnitude they are abdicating responsibility for taxpayers’ funds and failing to protect to the utmost the rights of families in our State to have access to all procedures and therapies in reproductive medicine that are lawful in the State. Not only are they planning to place this asset and the health care staff under religious control and influence, they are boosting enormously the value of the existing site which is under the control of the Order.

The Sisters of Charity

The Sisters of Charity are of course fully entitled to follow the dictates of their religious conscience when controlling a medical facility. It is doubtful if they should avail of state funding to do so however. They are obliged to act according to Canon law in deciding which procedures now and in the future to permit in such an institution. It should be the case however that any State-funded facility be required to permit all procedures and therapies legal in the state to be performed there. This is not the case at present in SVUH and if the Order has a role on the governing board of the proposed NMH they will be obliged by their faith to seek to frustrate and impede any procedures or treatment they disagree with.

The Order requires all its medical and nursing staff to uphold a Roman Catholic medical ethics code informed by Canon law.                                                                                  

The proposed move of the NMH and the logic of Co-Location

By co-locating the NMH with a major tertiary teaching hospital the thinking is that patients of the NMH will have immediate access, if required, to the wide range of facilities and adult medical specialisms available at the SVUH facility and hence patients, especially in a medical emergency, will benefit. Other benefits, like access to clinical laboratory facilities and research laboratories, will also accrue to the NMH. However it is precisely in such emergency situations that the chilling effect of a religious medical ethic may manifest itself.


Thus proposing to place the NMH on the SVUH site is impossible to square with a desire to have an independent State-funded facility in a position to deliver medical care in keeping with the laws of the land into the future. Even if the Order was to be excluded entirely from the board of the NMH, by placing patients in a situation where health and well-being could be at risk in an emergency, due to the particular religious beliefs of the Sisters of Charity who would still be in control of the SVUH, the state is failing in its constitutional obligations to its citizens.

We conclude, by asking any and all TDs who are keeping this government in office to immediately reconsider their position and insist that this shameful abdication of responsibility be abandoned and that the proposed NMH be sited instead at another tertiary teaching hospital with appropriate specialisms and not subject to Canon law interference in health care workers’ contracts.


Dick Spicer: is a married 70 year old pensioner and grandfather. He co-founded the Campaign to Separate Church and State in the 80’s and lodged a legal case against the State over its’ failure to safeguard taxpayers funds over the sale of Carysfort Teacher Training College. His action was instrumental in forcing the Sisters of Mercy to repay two and a quarter million in funds and equipment to the state.  He subsequently founded the Humanist Association and played a significant role in the divorce referendum.

Norman Spicer: is a 30 year old married man, former New York litigation attorney and recent ex-soldier of the Irish Defence Forces. He has served in the Irish army over a period of 12 years during which time he also performed peace keeping duties in central Africa.
He recently discharged (honorably) from the Defence Forces and has at all times had an exemplary conduct record. He is currently a full-time student at University College Dublin on a master of laws program. He resides in Bray, Co. Wicklow.


Dick Spicer: 086-609 5799



@HolyMess1 #HolyMess1

Crowd-Funding details https://www.ifundraise.ie/3257_autonomy-in-maternity-care.html

Updates will be posted on the www.cscs.ie web-site


Press release: From Equality in Education Alliance, Irish National Schools’ Trust and Citizens to Separate Church & State

Press release: From Equality in Education Alliance, Irish National Schools’ Trust and Citizens to Separate Church & State
For immediate use





Three educational reform groups have agreed a common platform as a solution to the problems of diversity in primary education.  At a press conference today in Buswell’s Hotel the Equality in Education Alliance, Citizens to Separate Church & State and the Irish National School Trust called on all politicians and educators to unite around the founding principles of the National School system. The allied groups believe that the Rules for National Schools and Ministerial ‘Circulars’ (Directions) have drifted over time away from the clear objectives and rights enshrined in the National School system (1831) and in the Irish Constitution.

We ask that those engaging in preparations for government take on board the following simple solution to the problems of access and diversity, which surely can no longer be ignored.


It is a national duty on the part of all legislators to insist on this workable solution.  The solution must be part of any programme for government. A Circular should be issued by any incoming Minister with responsibility for education under section 33 of the 1998 education act to give meaningful effect to Article 44.2.4 of the Constitution and Rules for National Schools No.s 54 and 69, as follows:

1.   National Schools

All primary schools recognised under Section 10 of the 1998 Education Act must be designated as National Schools. For all such schools, the inscription “National School” or “Scoil Náisiúnta” shall be put up conspicuously on the school building, and in view of the public road.

2.   Admissions

No National School shall make any enquiry as to the religious beliefs of any child or of his/her parents/guardians’ religious beliefs  prior to the admission of the child to the school. There shall be no priority given to children seeking entry to a National School on the basis of the child’s or his/her parents/guardians’ religious beliefs (an end to religion tests for admission).

3.   Religious Instruction

The Patron may appoint such religious instruction as they may think proper to be given in a National School under their patronage, provided that each School be open with equality to children of all religious beliefs and none – that no child shall be compelled to receive, or be present at, any religious instruction to which the parents or guardians object – that the time for religious instruction be so fixed that no child shall be thereby excluded directly or indirectly from all of the advantages that the School affords. Subject to this, religious instruction may be given either during the fixed school hours or otherwise. (Article 44.2.4 must be upheld and Rules 54 and 69 implemented).

Notes on the “National Schools Solution” above are posted here: http://www.cscs.ie/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/160308-National-Schools-Solution-Final.pdf

Further information

John Suttle, Director, Irish National Schools Trust.

24A Hollybrook Grove, Clontarf, Dublin 3.

Tel. 01-8331167



Dr. Mike McKillen

Citizens to Separate Church and State



Tel. 087-2314613

Fachtna Roe,
Equality in Education Alliance

Memorandum to those parties negotiating a Programme for Government – “Every National School is for Every Child”

Irish National Schools’ Trust, Citizens to Separate Church and State and Equality in Education Alliance issued this press release today directed at the parties negotiating a Programme for Government.

It calls on them to resolve the two issues dividing some of our children from attending local National Schools.

(1) religion tests used for admission

(2) failure to separate periods of religious instruction from the secular curriculum

160308 National Schools Solution-Final

Citizens to Separate Church and State (CSCS) welcomes the No-vote in the presidential age referendum (‪#‎AgeRef‬)

Press release issued Saturday 23 May for immediate use

Citizens to Separate Church and State (CSCS) welcomes the No-vote in the presidential age referendum (‪#‎AgeRef‬).
We could not understand the government’s proceeding with this referendum (35th) without first fixing the religious discrimination in Constitution Article 12.8, with its requirement for the president-elect to swear a religious oath at installation.
Reform of Art. 12.8 by permitting the use of an ‘affirmation’ has to be put before the people first. It is an abnegation of human rights against non-believers, or those candidates who cannot swear an oath, to continue with this anachronism in our constitution. Unless of course that this State only want believers as its president.

CSCS wrote to every cabinet minister and member of the Oireachtas back in early February pleading with the government not to move the Bill for the 35th amendment in the Oireachtas but instead to act to fix Art. 12.8. Not one minister replied to us. No political party engaged with us either. The government’s response to our pleading was to move the Bill to enable the 35th amendment to be taken without modifying Art. 12.8. The opposition did not demur.

The discriminatory aspect of the ‘forgotten referendum’ has been characterised by omerta in our democracy and media. CSCS got virtually no coverage for its position on this referendum once the campaigning for the marriage referendum got going. We ask: What has happened in our democracy that our view was not given any platform?

The State has been under notice from the UN Human Rights Committee that maintaining the religious oath constitutes a human rights abnegation – as recently as last August in a UNHRC periodic report on Ireland.
Do human rights and ‘equality for all’ only apply in relation to the marriage referendum?


Dick Spicer:

Press release for immediate use from Citizens to Separate Church and State (CSCS) opposing the 35th amendment (AgeRef)

Date: 1 May 2015

Press release for immediate use from Citizens to Separate Church and State (CSCS) opposing the 35th amendment (AgeRef)

CSCS has issued a short (7 min) video documentary setting out why it is calling for a ‘No’ vote in the Presidential age referendum (35th amendment).
The government’s 35th amendment is ill-judged and –timed because it has failed to deal with the issue regarding the religious oath that has to be sworn by the president-elect (Article 12.8).

Watch it on:

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4aOI2s_DGuE


Vimeo: https://vimeo.com/126464204

Further information
Mike McKillen: 087-2314 613
Dick Spicer: 086-6095 799