There was an air of discontent among the Irish public when it was announced on Tuesday that the new National Maternity Hospital would be given to religious order The Sisters Of Charity, according to The Irish Times.

The move was met with criticism from the public, who took over Twitter to express their opposition to the move.

Now, an online petition has started, in an attempt to draw attention to the issue.

The petition has gained 49,036 signatures in 24 hours, and is now just 64 pledges away from the goal of 50,000. 

'The Sisters of Charity is one of 18 residential institutions that is highlighted by the Ryan report 2009 to have been responsible for child abuse,' reads the petition manifesto.

'They still owe €3 million to the redress scheme for its survivors. The Sisters of Charity, along with three other religious congregations, were responsible for the management of Magdalene Laundries.'

'In 2013 they stated they would not be making ANY contributions to the State redress scheme to the women who had been subject abuse in the Magdalene Laundries.'

'The Department of Health now want to give 'sole' ownership of the new €300 million State-funded National Maternity Hospital. Deny them 'sole' ownership.'

'Demand they formally apologise and pay redress.'

Minister for Health Simon Harris has stood by the decision,tweeting: 'When it comes to our maternity services, I take the views of those responsible for the delivery of infants & the clinical care of women.'

'It is correct that the land on which the new maternity hospital will be built is owned by the St. Vincent’s Healthcare Group and that the Sisters of Charity are a major shareholder in the St. Vincent’s Healthcare Group," reads a Department of Health statement.

'The identity and ethos of the current NMH will be retained.'

'The new company will have clinical and operational independence in the provision of maternity, gynaecology and neonatal services, without religious, ethnic or other distinction, as well as financial and budgetary independence.'

You can take a look at the petition for yourself here