A member of the board of the Mater Hospital in Dublin has said it cannot comply with the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act.

Fr Kevin Doran told The Irish Times the Catholic voluntary hospital cannot carry out abortions because they go against its ethos.

A spokesman for the board said it would be discussing its attitude to the legislation within weeks.

Fr Doran said he first published his personal opposition to implementing the abortion legislation in June.

He said that since then, he has encountered no criticism by fellow-members of the Mater Board.

A spokesman for the hospital said the board has not yet formulated a view on the legislation but that it is due to discuss the matter within weeks.

Meanwhile, a former Master of the National Maternity Hospital criticised Fr Doran's statement and warned of the possible consequences if the Mater's board refused to carry out abortions to save women's lives.

Dr Peter Boylan said he could not imagine any hospital here having an ethos that allows people to die when a treatment that will save their lives is available.

But, he added, were that to happen, he thought the medical staff would have extreme difficulty.

He said he could not imagine a hospital being funded by the State while it refuses treatment that would save citizens’ lives.

Dr Boylan said it would be for Minister for Health James Reilly to decide what action he would need to take were the situation to arise.

A spokesman for Mr Reilly said he would not be commenting on Fr Doran's statement as he understood it was the view of an individual member of the Mater Hospital's board.

He understood the board itself had not yet decided its attitude to the legislation.

The Mater is one of 25 "appropriate institutions" named in the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act where abortions may be carried out to save the life of a pregnant woman.

Under the act, individual medical practitioners who have a conscientious objection to abortion cannot be forced to carry out a termination. However, institutions enjoy no such rights.

In the past Mr Reilly has commented on the hypothetical situation where one of the named "appropriate institutions" refused to comply with the act.

Speaking in June, he said: "All institutions mentioned (in the legislation) are funded by the taxpayer. We could not have a situation where a service funded by the taxpayer could deprive a citizen of their rights."

The minister continued: "In those circumstances we see absolutely no indication or room for an institution to have a conscientious objection."