MAHONY ASKED IF SHE WOULD BE JAILED FOR SAVING A MOTHER’S LIFE
RHONA Mahony became the first female Master of the National Maternity Hospital in Dublin in early 2012.
Before taking up the role, Dr Mahony previously worked in the Coombe, the Rotunda and the Mater hospitals in Dublin and also in Galway University Hospital.
She finished her clinical training at Birmingham Women’s Hospital.
She is married to Howth dentist Daragh Fagan and the couple have four children, Lorna, Sarah, Daragh and Hugh. All four were born in Holles Street. Dr Mahony captured the public attention when she spoke about her profession during the Oireachtas debates to enact new abortion legislation in Leinster House in 2013.
Highlighting the fact that abortion is still a criminal offence in Ireland, Dr Mahony spoke on the subject to the Oireachtas’s expert group that was reporting on the European Court of Human Rights judgment against Ireland. She said: ‘I need to know that I will not go to jail if I, in good faith, intervene to save a mother’s life and terminate the pregnancy. And I want to know that she will not go to jail.
‘Doctors deserve the legal protection in carrying out their job.’
Dr Mahony, who was born to Una and Donal Mahony, grew up in Raheny on Dublin’s northside.
An early achiever, she was attending school from the age of three years old.
In a UCD alumni profile some years later, she wrote: ‘I was the youngest of three and I’d be watching the others go out the door, so eventually in desperation my mother said, “Right off you go”. ‘And I loved it, I really liked school.’ Dr Mahony firmly set her sights on her future career in medicine at a very young age, and was determined to pursue her chosen path.
‘I always said I was going to be a doctor, right from the age of the first Fisher-Price doctor’s kit that I got for Christmas,’ she said.
She enrolled in UCD at 17 and had qualified with a medical degree by 1994 before taking up an internship at St Vincent’s Hospital. She quickly found she had a passion for obstetrics and gynaecology.
In November 2013, she was forced to defend her €45,000 salary ‘top-up’ from private funds, saying she earned the cash for treating private patients.
She issued the explanation through a PR firm, adding that she had been ‘personally vilified’ over the issue.
The row arose after documents released by the Department of Health showed the Holles Street hospital boss was earning a combined annual salary of €281,892. The overall pre-Haddington Road agreement salary disclosed to the HSE included a €45,000 ‘privately funded allowance’, according to the documents.
The maternity hospital was one of 13 organisations identified in an initial HSE audit as using private funds to supplement allowances for senior staffing totalling over €900,000. She pointed out that the top-up cash identified was for ‘professional fees from private patients attending the National Maternity Hospital’.
She said: ‘I have been personally vilified over the last few days. This has been utterly unwarranted.’
Dr Mahony said: ‘As a consultant obstetrician, my contract allows me to provide clinical care to private patients, as is the case with all consultants in the Irish health service who have the same consultant contract as myself.’
She added: ‘My remuneration as Master is strictly in line with the contract I have with the National Maternity Hospital and is exactly in compliance with public service pay requirements for my position.’
She said the existence of her income from private patients had been reported to the HSE in May 2012 as part of a ‘routine confidential internal audit carried out by the HSE’.
Dr Mahony said: ‘To be absolutely clear, I have never received any additional remuneration from the health service of any other source including fundraising and charitable donations.’
Dr Mahony’s older sister, Jane, also lives in Dublin and is married to a former Holles Street Master, Dr Peter Boylan.
‘Doctors doing their job deserve protection’
A young achiever: Holles Street Master Dr Rhona Mahony