The Minister for Health has been given a month by Government for all parties to consider the ownership of the National Maternity Hospital, according to the Taoiseach.

Responding to Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin during Leaders’ Questions in the Dáil, Enda Kenny said the matter deserved real debate.

Mr Martin said people were taken aback when details of the ownership emerged and said Minister for Heath Simon Harris was like a rabbit caught in headlights.

The Religious Sisters of Charity is set 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.

The Taoiseach said facilities for expectant mothers and babies at the moment were unacceptable and co-location with St Vincent’s was the best practice clinically.

He pointed out that the Master of Holles Street and the Minister for Health have stated the new National Maternity Hospital would be completely independent.

Mr Kenny said the move to St Vincent's had been endorsed by both hospital boards so it was clear the focus was on ownership.

He said Mr Harris had asked for and has been given a month by Government to allow space for all parties to discuss the question of the ownership of the hospital, which he said deserved "real debate" in respect of statutory hospitals, voluntary hospitals and their ownership.

Call for public inquiry into case of Crevan Mackin

Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams has called for a public inquiry into the case of Crevan Mackin who shot dead Garda Anthony Golden in October 2015.

Mackin also shot and maimed his partner Siobhán Phillips before killing himself.

During Leaders' Questions, Mr Adams said he had written to the Taoiseach, Tánaiste and the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission about the matter. 

Mackin had convictions for firearms offences in the North, and was facing charges of membership of an illegal organisation. 

Mr Adams said the family of Ms Phillips was also calling for a public inquiry. 

The Taoiseach said all of the concerns raised by Mr Adams with himself and the Tánaiste had been brought to the attention of garda authorities. 

He said there were two investigations under way - one by gardaí into the circumstances of the shooting of Garda Golden; and a GSOC investigation following information made available by a firm of solicitors last year. 

He said it was only appropriate that the investigations be allowed proceed in parallel. 

Howlin queries Government position on public pensions

Labour leader Brendan Howlin has questioned the Taoiseach about an article in today's Irish Independent centered on public pensions. 

During Leaders' Questions, Mr Howlin said that on RTÉ's Morning Ireland recently, Minister for Public Expenditure Paschal Donohoe refused to comment on possible negotiations on pensions until the Public Service Pay Commission completes its examination of the matter.  

However, Mr Howlin said the Irish Independent article indicated that the Government is planning to attack gold plated pensions and someone had briefed the paper in this regard. 

He called on Mr Kenny to outline the Government's position on the pension rights of public servants because a "dramatic cut" would leave plans for many in "tatters". 

The Taoiseach said neither he or anyone in Government had seen the report or a draft report by the Public Pay Commission and he called on TDs to await its outcome. 

He said that in December, Mr Donohoe said the value of public service pensions had increased and that was why the work of the pay commission was so important, adding that the matter would be debated when the report is published.  

Fianna Fáil calls for mental health strategy reform

Fianna Fáil is using its private members time this week to table the Mental Health (Amendment) Bill 2017.

Fianna Fáil spokesperson on mental health James Browne says a new bill put forward by his party will bring about much needed reform to mental health services right across the country.

The TD told the Dáil tonight that he has written to the Taoiseach asking him to establish an Oireachtas Committee on mental health.

Mr Browne said this would be the first such committee set up by any parliament in the world.

He said that the Vision for Change strategy document on mental health needs to be implemented as agreed in the Confidence and Supply arrangement between the Government and Fianna Fáil.

He pointed out that the Expert Group on the Review of the Mental Health Act in 2015 made 165 recommendations surrounding the need to modernise structures and practices with Ireland’s mental health services.

However, to date just one of these recommendations has been implemented.

Mr Browne said that tonight's bill is being introduced to speed up the pace of reform.

Minister of State Helen McEntee said she agrees that change is needed to mental health legislation and that it needs to be done as soon as possible.

However, she said it must be ensures that the changes made are the right ones. 

She welcomed tonight's debate and stressed the significance the Government places on providing and improving mental health services.

Ms McEntee said:  "It's important that we recognise the template for revising the 2001 act is the expert review group, which received broad support upon its publication.

"Government has already approved the preparation of the general scheme of a bill to reflect these changes in revised legislation and work is already well under way at official level with the final text of the changes expected to be significantly progressed by the end of this year."