Thursday 23 February 2017

Jack & Jill Foundation 'locked out' of Leinster House meeting on new children's hospital

Ian Begley

Jonathan Irwin of the Jack and Jill Foundation. Photo: Tony Gavin
Jonathan Irwin of the Jack and Jill Foundation. Photo: Tony Gavin

Jack & Jill Foundation "Locked out" of Leinster House meeting on new children's hospital

The Jack & Jill Foundation claim to have been ‘locked out’ of an upcoming meeting in Leinster House, which will put the Connolly for Kids Hospital campaign up for discussion.

Campaigners calling for the new children’s hospital to be built on the Connolly Hospital campus instead of at St James’ Hospital in the city centre were invited to attend an Oireachtas Health Committee meeting on October 27.

However, the Jack & Jill Foundation – one of the main supporters of the campaign group – has had a request to attend the meeting rejected.

The foundation’s CEO Jonathan Irwin, is highly critical of the committee’s decision, saying “without inviting Jack & Jill along is like talking about cancer without the Irish Cancer Society present”.

In an open letter on Facebook, Irwin wrote: “As I’ve said to the Chairman of the Committee, Dr Michael Harty, holding an inquiry into the location of the location of the National Children’s Hospital without inviting Jack & Jill along is like talking about cancer without the Irish Cancer Society present.

“This is a message that matters to all Jack & Jill families and supporters. It is a flat no, with absolutely no explanation as to why.

The Jack & Jill CEO is encouraging his supporters to email a letter of complaint, asking why the children’s charity has been ‘locked out’ of the meeting on October 27.

Plans are already underway to locate the new hospital at the St James’s campus in the city centre, but campaigners are urging the decision to be reversed.

Even though he wasn’t invited to the meeting, Irwin has vowed to be at Leinster House on the day of the meeting.

He added: “The location of the National Children’s Hospital is not a done deal and this inquiry by the Health Committee, which includes our good friends Connolly 4 Kids, is both timely and hugely important, as it’s never too late to call a halt to the wrong decision.

“One way or another I intend to be there on October 27, even if it is in the visitor’s gallery, or I’ll stand outside the gates of Leinster House in protest if I have to.”

During the meeting, the Connolly for Kids group will be able to outline their views in a five-minute opening statement and take part in an open discussion with members of the committee.

The meeting starts at 9am and will be aired live on the Oireachtas TV channel.

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