Hundreds of people have taken part in a protest against the ownership of the proposed site on which the new National Maternity Hospital will be relocated.

The Campaign Against Church Ownership of Women's Healthcare wants the hospital and its site to be in full public ownership.

Around 500 people attended the protest.

There have been calls to move the planned NMH to another site amid concerns in relation to the ownership of the site as well as with the hospital's governance.

The facility is set to 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 Religious Sisters of Charity order owns the land and has said it is gifting it to the Irish people.

The St Vincent's Healthcare Group has rejected calls to sell the site and said that for the delivery of integrated patient care on the Elm Park Campus, it must retain ownership of the site.

However, the Campaign Against Church Ownership of Women's Healthcare believes if St Vincent’s gets the licence it will not offer abortions and other procedures.

Organisers of today's rally believe women will not be able to avail of contraception in the hospital if it has a religious ethos.

The rally aims to get a commitment from the Minister for Health that the NMH will be completely publicly owned and secular.

They say noting less is acceptable.

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Activist Ailbhe Smyth said: "We want our National Maternity Hospital to be publicly owned and wholly secular . We have no indication that a solution has yet been found. We need a solution quite clearly.

"The State must own the land, we are investing a huge amount of taxpayers' money. We want to make sure, for that 800 million, women get the very best and safest care that is fully free of any religious ethos."

Chairperson of the Campaign Against Church Ownership of Women's Healthcare group Jo Tully said: "We will not stand for it, there are options, the site can be gifted as the Sisters told us they were doing back in 2017 but they were gifting not just the site but the entire hospital group to the people of Ireland.

"Clearly they did not do that and had no intention of selling it."