Minister for Health Simon Harris has called for "cool heads" over the new National Maternity Hospital.

He said that central to the agreement is the decision by St Vincent's Healthcare Group to give the State, free of charge, a site in the middle of their campus in Elm Park, co-located with their public adult acute hospital.

Earlier this week, it emerged that the Religious Sisters of Charity was to be given ownership of the €300m taxpayer-funded hospital because it owns the land on which it is to be built. 

The new hospital is to be built on the campus of St Vincent's Hospital in Dublin.

Speaking at the Irish Medical Organisation's annual conference in Galway, Mr Harris said his job is to make the agreement and the hospital to be built on the site, work for public health policy, the taxpayer and the State.

Mr Harris said it has been difficult for all stakeholders and St Vincent's want time to reflect on the deal and to reflect on some of the things he has said.

He said that the hospital needs to be built as Holles Street is not fit for purpose.

Earlier, the IMO said the project seemed to have been very badly handled.

Dr Ann Hogan, the IMO's new president, said it was very distressing and could mean a delay in the new facility that is so badly needed for women and babies.

Speaking at the union's annual general meeting in Galway, she said both Minister for Health Simon Harris and the Master of Holles Street Hospital Dr Rhona Mahony had given assurances that they had the range of medical services and independence of the facility copper fastened and now there was uncertainty.

Dr Hogan said the Dublin maternity services in particular were under huge pressure and the situation was really distressing.