There are calls for the Minister for Health to explain to the Dáil how the ownership of the new National Maternity Hospital will work.

Simon Harris has insisted the Government will not go ahead with the project – on lands owned by the Sisters of Charity – unless he is convinced it will be free of religious interference.

He has dismissed claims that the nuns will be running the hospital and says he has written to the HSE to make sure the State’s interest is fully protected.

However Fianna Fáil’s spokesperson for Health Billy Kelleher still has a number of concerns: “I was amazed to find out it was only yesterday that he was writing to the HSE to find out the more intricate detail of this particular agreement which is an issue of concern.

“I do want the Minister to explain, in detail, either to the Dáil, or to a Health Oireachtas Meeting, the outline of what they have envisaged to ensure the protection of the states investment and the protection of the hospital itself.”