The Religious Sisters of Charity order has said that it has "never at any point" been contacted by the Government or the State to discuss the purchase of the site of the National Maternity Hospital.

In a statement this evening, the order also said it "has not been involved in any functions or operations of the St Vincent's Healthcare Group since 2017" when it stepped down from the Board.

The new hospital is to be built on the site of St Vincent's University Hospital in Dublin, however there has been opposition to the plan in its current form.

This is given that the facility will be built on land which will be owned by an independent charity, St Vincent's Holdings, and rented to the State as part of a 99-year lease.

The site is being gifted to the charity by the order, which has insisted that it will not be involved in the running of the hospital.

The order has also said it has not been involved "in any way" with the "appointment of Directors to either to St Vincent's Holdings CLG (the new company established by St Vincent's Healthcare Group) or to the existing SVHG Board since it ceased all involvement in 2017."

Asked this afternoon for his views on the proposed new hospital, Taoiseach Micheál Martin said he believes that any new hospital should be owned by the public.

Mr Martin said that the health system has evolved in a "very odd way" in that the State has invested "huge monies in hospitals where it doesn't have ownership and that's not entirely satisfactory into the future".

This system was "no longer tenable in the modern era", the Taoiseach said.

Mr Martin said that "nothing has been signed off", with regards to the proposed new National Maternity Hospital.

Speaking outside Government Buildings this afternoon, he said that the Minister for Health has continued to engage with various stakeholders about the project.

He asked that those stakeholders, including historic bodies or trusts, "reflect" on the situation and not be "overly obsessed" with ownership of the hospital.

Yesterday, the Tánaiste also expressed concern over governance of the hospital, explaining that the Government, despite providing most of the finance for the hospital, will not be able to appoint board members.

Leo Varadkar said that while he believed the hospital should be owned by the public, he was also aware of the fact that a new hospital was needed.