THOUSANDS of people have signed a petition to halt the Sisters of Charity, who once ran one of Ireland's Magdalene Laundries, from running an Irish maternity hospital.
The Sisters of Charity is one of 18 religious congregations who managed residential institutions for children investigated by the Ryan Commission and was party to the 2002, €128million indemnity agreement with the State.
After the Ryan Report in 2009, the Sisters of Charity offered to contribute a further €5million towards the €1.5billion redress costs incurred by the State involving former residents of the institutions.
But according to the Comptroller and Auditor General’s report last month the Order have contributed just €2million of their 2009 offer.
The Department of Health said late last year the National Maternity Hospital, at Holles Street in Dublin and St. Vincent’s Healthcare Group - of which, the Sisters of Charity are a major shareholder - agreed a new governance structure, creating a new company to be established called The National Maternity Hospital at Elm Park.
The new €300million, state-funded maternity hospital will be built on land owned by St Vincent's Healthcare Group.
In a statement, the Department of Health said: "The new company will have clinical and operational independence in the provision of maternity, gynaecology and neonatal services, without religious, ethnic or other distinction, as well as financial and budgetary independence."
However, some have reacted furiously to the announcement, with over 16,000 signing a petition overnight to stop the Sisters of Charity involvement in the maternity hospital.
"Show the state we will not allow the abuse of our babies, children, and women to be swept under the rug.
"Demand a formal apology from Sisters of Charity and demand they pay their share of the redress scheme," the petition said.
In addition to signing the petition, many offered reasons for their signatures.
"I do not trust the Sisters of Charity with the children and mothers," one said. "I think the hospital should be owned and operated by the state. The people should have a say in how it is run."
"I'm signing to show my support for all the women, children and families who have suffered at the hands of this institution. They need to face justice for their actions and for the pain they have caused," another stated.
"History has shown us that these people are the last people who should be allowed near women and children. Have we forgotten about the Magdalene Laundries and Mother & Baby Homes already?" another asked.