The campaign against church ownership of women's healthcare has accused the Religious Sisters of Charity of pressuring the Government into signing over ownership and control of the new maternity hospital to their companies.

In a statement issued yesterday, the Religious Sisters of Charity said they had done everything in their power to expedite the transfer to the new independent charity, St Vincent's Holdings.

It called on "the other parties involved, including the Minister for Health, to take all actions necessary to facilitate the completion of the transfer as soon as possible".

The statement noted there had been much public discussion in relation to the Religious Sisters of Charity and whether they were still, or will be, involved in the management of St Vincent's Hospital, the new maternity hospital or the new independent charity set up to take over the ownership of St Vincent’s Healthcare Group from the Religious Sisters of Charity.

"The answer is 'no'", it said.

"The Religious Sisters of Charity have no involvement now and will not have any future role in the management of St Vincent’s Hospital. We will have no role, whatsoever, in St Vincent’s Healthcare Group, the new independent charity or the new maternity hospital".

The Chairperson of the Campaign against church ownership of women's healthcare has described the "intervention" as "a blatant attempt to undermine the democratic process by pressuring the Government into immediately signing over ownership and control of the new maternity hospital to their companies".

Jo Tully has said that while the Religious Sisters of Charity "claim to have no involvement in these companies", she points out that the board members are clerical appointees.

She also said owning the hospital site enables the Sisters of Charity to "force the State" to license their company to operate the new facility, where their ethos will be enforced through job contracts.

"This would ensure that abortion and other services banned by Rome would not be provided in the new maternity hospital", she says.

The group has called on the Health Service Executive not to approve the transfer of St Vincent's Healthcare Group to St Vincent’s Holdings "because this would give full ownership of the National Maternity Hospital, as an entity, to the nuns' company".