Calls have been made for the restrictions at CUMH to the eased. Photo: Suhyeon Choi

Councillor wants CUMH restrictions to be eased

“Ireland, in many ways, has a shameful past when it comes to supporting and protecting women in our society.”

Those were the words of Fine Gael Cllr Shane O’Callaghan as he called on councillors to support the call to ease restrictions at Cork University Maternity Hospital (CUMH).

During Monday’s Cork City Council meeting, Cllr O’Callaghan spoke passionately about the need for pregnant women to be supported in the maternity hospital.

He said: “This is something I raised a long time ago and I’m raising it again because the situation is ongoing. First I’d like to acknowledge the efforts made by the South/South West Hospital Group to keep their staff and patients in CUMH safe during the pandemic. The roll out of the vaccine, has led to significant easing of restrictions in Irish society but not when it comes to the attendance of partners in CUMH.” He said he appreciated that the management and staff have been working in difficult positions in recent months but added the restrictions that remain continue to cause anxiety and stress to many women.

“This current situation is another example of how women’s health is not perceived as a priority in certain circumstances. We need an explanation as to why the restrictions are still necessary. I do have a personal interest in this as my wife Tara is eight and half months pregnant and I presume by the time anything happens it’ll be too late for us. This is a very important issue for the people of Cork, and something has to be done.”

Councillors from different parties supported his motion with the Lord Mayor of Cork Cllr Colm Kelleher saying he 100 per cent agreed with Cllr O’Callaghan.

Fianna Fáil Cllr and Blackpool-based GP Dr John Sheehan said it was hard to know why the restrictions are still there.

“The CUMH is a modern built facility. I know they’ve had to make adaptations due to Covid-19. This issue has been discussed again and again nationally and locally. The notion that a partner is like a general visitor is really hard to imagine particularly at a most vulnerable time for people. It’s hard to know if it’s old fashioned values or paternalistic attitude. Whatever it is, I don’t think the current restrictions are defensible in line with the vaccination rate.”

Sinn Féin’s Eolan Ryng, while he thanked staff at CUMH for all their work during Covid-19, said he struggled to understand the rationale behind the restrictions at CUMH.

“I had personal experience of this with my own arrival seven months ago. My memory of it was that I was allowed for about an hour and I can remember my partner telling me that this was first time you’ve heard the heartbeat. It really dawned on me on how she journeyed alone to her appointments without support,” he added.