The Taoiseach has said "we need to move on" to allow the co-location of the new National Maternity Hospital on the St Vincent's campus.

He said he thinks it is remarkable that the only co-location of services has been of the maternity of hospital in Cork with the Cork University Hospital and "we need to move on" so other centres can be created, the most immediate of which is the National Maternity Hospital.

Speaking in Cork this afternoon, Micheál Martin said there is strong clarity in relation to the term "clinically appropriate" in the National Maternity Hospital as the HSE sought that to emphasise the hospital will provide maternity services "now and into the future".

He said the constitution of the hospital is strong to ensure that all legally permitted procedures will be provided as too will the operating licence from the HSE.

Earlier, Further and Higher Education Minister Simon Harris has said the Government should give additional clarity regarding what the phrase "clinically appropriate" means in the context of the new National Maternity Hospital.

Yesterday, the Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly said he would write to the Oireachtas Health Committee to address issues raised about the term "clinically appropriate" in the constitution of the new National Maternity Hospital.

The constitution states the hospital will be able to carry out healthcare procedures which are legal and "clinically appropriate". But some politicians are concerned that it could be interpreted in a way that prevents women from receiving procedures they have requested such as abortions.

Asked today if a legal codicil should be added to detail what procedures would take place at the NMH, Minister Harris said: "Any additional clarifications or assurances the Government can provide, when making a decision on Tuesday, would be welcomed by many."

The St Vincent's Healthcare Group is to appear before the Oireachtas Health Committee on Monday to discuss the proposed hospital plan.

The hearing will take place before the issue goes before Cabinet on Tuesday.

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Yesterday the St Vincent's Healthcare Group wrote to Minister for the Arts, Catherine Martin, to give reassurance that abortion services will be provided at the new hospital on the St Vincent's campus.

The Green Party deputy leader said she would now give her support to the plans for the relocated National Maternity Hospital when the Cabinet meets.

Minister Martin said a decision to approve the National Maternity Hospital's move to St Vincent's Hospital was delayed for two weeks in order to give more time for ministers, medical experts and the public to reflect on the proposals and address genuine concerns.

Mr Harris said that the last two weeks have been "very useful" but he expects a decision on the hospital plan on Tuesday.

He said that the pause had been an opportunity to put documents and information out there and the Government will reflect this weekend on all of the important issues that people have raised, particularly the phrase "clinically appropriate".

"That phrase was always meant to show that the NMH would be just that, a maternity hospital, but any additional clarifications or assurances that the Government can provide when it makes a decision on Tuesday would be welcomed by many. The Government is listening and will reflect," he said.

On a personal level, he said that he would like to see the hospital project progress and he expects a decision on Tuesday, which will provide "the highest level of assurance possible".

Detail on meaning on 'clinically appropriate' would be welcome, says McDonald

Mary Lou McDonald

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald said she would welcome if the Government published a codicil explaining the meaning of "clinically appropriate" regarding procedures available at the new Maternity Hospital.

Speaking in Dublin today, Ms McDonald said that would be a welcome development - subject to reading the text.

However, deputy McDonald added the "very vexed" question of NMH ownership remains, and the Government has failed to explain its position or convince the public.

Mary Favier, Cork GP and co-founder of Doctors for Choice said that attempts to reassure people about the new NMH this week have made things worse.

She said that she has "deep concerns" escalating rather than reducing and that this issue is about separating church and State and that at times like these, past behaviour predicts future behaviour.

She said that there is still religious influence in our hospitals, and that an opt-out culture for terminations had been "considered acceptable" when it should not be.

She said that women had come too far not to have a guarantee, and that there are a significant amount of medical services across the country not fit for purpose, not just in maternity services.

Additional reporting: Paul Cunningham