Thursday 21 September 2017

Support grows for children's hospital on greenfield site

Fiach Kelly, Eilish O'Regan and Cormac McQuinn

THERE is growing political momentum backing a national children's hospital on a greenfield site.

Social Protection Minister Joan Burton has admitted there is an increasing preference for locating the new hospital outside of the city centre.

Ms Burton was speaking after the Irish Independent yesterday revealed Health Minister James Reilly was seriously considering a massive new €1.2bn medical hub with the children's hospital and a relocated Beaumont Hospital at its core.

The site, including a possible DART link, business park and education centre, would be situated near Dublin Airport and the junction of the M50 and M1 motorways.

Limbo

Ms Burton said there was now a strong feeling in favour of having the hospital away from the city centre. However, she is promoting Connolly Hospital in Blanchardstown, in her own Dublin West constituency.

Other sources also said the review group examining where to put the hospital had been encouraged to look away from city centre sites and go "outside the box".

The children's hospital has been in limbo since a high-rise scheme for the Mater Hospital was shot down by An Bord Pleanala. The Mater has submitted revised plans, but this site has been described as "not politically popular".

Speaking in her constituency yesterday, Ms Burton said the review group headed up by Dr Frank Dolphin had yet to examine all options.

But she added: "There has always been a strong body of opinion right across political parties that a site somewhere on the periphery of Dublin has a lot of advantages.

"The most important interest in this is the children and the parents of the children who are ill, that they get in and out to a first-class facility."

She pointed out that her local hospital, Connolly Hospital in Blanchardstown, had also made a bid. It is one of up to 50 possible sites -- some being offered for free -- which have been put forward as locations, with offers coming from hospitals, landowners, NAMA and local authorities.

The Department of Health has refused to release the list of submissions. The locations of just 25 of these sites are publicly known. While some are already in public ownership, others are being offered by private land owners free of charge.

Elsewhere five other adult hospitals, St James's, Beaumont, The Coombe and Connolly and Tallaght hospitals have submitted plans to build the children's hospital on adjoining sites.

Irish Independent

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