The Religious Sisters of Charity are to transfer ownership of St Vincent's Healthcare Group to the Irish public.

The order confirmed that it has received approval from the Holy See to transfer the ownership of the site worth some €200m and it will be "gifted" to the people of Ireland.

In a statement, the Sisters of Charity said it hopes that the transfer can now be concluded without undue delays.

In July 2017, the Religious Sisters of Charity stepped down from the Board of St Vincent's Hospital Group.

The statement said: "Today, marks the final movement towards completion of all legal, financial and regulatory matters involved in the transfer of the Sisters’ 186-year involvement in the hospital."

In line with Canon Law, formal approval for the decision to complete the transfer of ownership was requested and was received. 

This means it will enable "the completion of transfer of ownership of the St Vincent's Healthcare Group site from the Congregation to a new, independent, charitable body to be called St Vincent’s Holdings CLG.

"The new St Vincent’s Holdings CLG will continue to be a 'not for profit' organisation."

In 2017, Minister for Health Simon Harris described as "historic" the decision by the order to relinquish ownership of three hospitals; St Vincent's University Hospital in Dublin, St Vincent's Private and St Michael's.

The move by the Sisters of Charity followed controversy over the proposed ownership of the planned new National Maternity Hospital on the St Vincent's Hospital campus.

Nuns' decision to give up ownership of three hospitals 'historic'

In their statement, the Religious Sisters of Charity thanked everyone who supported them in formalising the final steps towards their departure.

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The Board of St. Vincent's Healthcare Group has thanked to the Religious Sisters of Charity for their exceptionally generous legacy to the Irish people.

In a statement, the Chairperson of the Group described it as a significant milestone and another indication of the Religious Sisters of Charity's "wonderful legacy to Irish healthcare".

James Menton said the Sisters always held "the highest ambitions for the provision of world class healthcare services in Ireland and have successfully achieved and sustained this".

He added: "They have always seen the need for the proposed development of the new National Maternity Hospital integrated within the Elm Park campus and this announcement should ensure this vital facility for mothers and babies is developed as quickly as possible."

A spokesperson for the National Maternity Hospital has said the hospital campus at Elm Park will be a world-class facility and the most significant infrastructural development in the area of women's health since the foundation of the State.

He said the enabling works for the project are close to completion and the National Maternity Hospital looks forward to the main build commencing without delay.

The spokesperson also expressed appreciation for the role played by the Sisters of Charity in healthcare in Ireland over two centuries, culminating in the release of these hugely valuable healthcare assets.

In 1834, Mary Aikenhead, foundress of the Religious Sisters of Charity established the hospital which freely admitted the sick and the poor, irrespective of their race, creed or ability to pay.

Superior General Sr Patricia Lenihan said: "We are confident that the St Vincent's Healthcare Group Board, management and staff will continue to provide acute healthcare services that foster Mary Aikenhead's mission and core values of dignity, compassion, justice, equality and advocacy for all into the future."