The Tánaiste has told the Dáil that he believes that there are "problems" with plans for the new National Maternity Hospital.

Leo Varadkar expressed concern around the governance of the new hospital and the ownership of the site on which it will be built.

Currently located at Holles Street in Dublin city centre, the hospital is moving to Elm Park where it will be co-located with St Vincents Hospital.

Explaining the logic behind the move to a new hospital, the Tánaiste explained that "Holles Street is a great hospital, but it belongs to two hundred years ago not to today".

However, there has been criticism of the plan.

The St Vincents site is owned by the Religious Sisters of Charity. The order is gifting it to an independent charity called St Vincents Holdings. The Religious Sisters of Charity have insisted that they will not be involved in the running of the hospital.

Under the plan, Government will rent the land as part of a 99-year lease.

During Leaders Questions, Leo Varadkar told People Before Profit's Bríd Smith that he was worried about the "safeguards " around the leasing arrangement, describing them as "not strong enough".

The Fine Gael leader also told the Dáil that the Government had difficulties with the governance of the hospital, given that the board will not be appointed by the Government. He pointed out that the hospital will be mostly funded by the State.

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Bríd Smith said that she was worried about the "ethos" of the new hospital and the implications that could have on the services that are provided there.

Leo Varadkar insisted that all services in place in Holles Street will be available in the new hospital.

"You and I agree on this more than you may believe," he told Ms Smith.Deputy Smith said that the arrangement that is currently in place was agreed prior to the result of the referendum to repeal the 8th Amendment of the Constitution.

"That changed everything", she told the Dáil.

Ms Smith expressed concern around the provision of services such as abortion, gender alignment, and vasectomies at the new facility and called for the new National Maternity Hospital to be taken into full public ownership.

Leo Varadkar told Deputies that he respects and values the "role played by the Sisters of Charity in providing healthcare and education down the years when the State did not".