Monday 20 February 2017

What's the controversy about?

Published 11/03/2011 | 05:00

Q. Why has the saga around the hospital been going on for so long?

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A. The decision to choose the site of the Mater Hospital in north inner city Dublin as the location for a new national children's hospital was made by a government-appointed taskforce in 2006.

But many saw it as tainted. The suspicion was that the location was favoured because it was in the constituency of former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern. No evidence to support this has emerged.

Q. Why is there still such opposition to the site?

A. Many have very genuine concerns about access to the hospital because of traffic congestion in an area so close to the city centre.

They point to problems with parking, and also the fact it will be a high-rise building with no natural green spaces.

Some degree of internal medical rivalry is also thrown in.

Q.What work has been done to date?

A. Around €30m has been spent so far on planning, design and other preparatory work.

However, planning permission has yet to be lodged, and no construction firm has been hired.

It is planned to have it ready by 2015.

The expected cost is €650m, with €110m yet to be raised from charitable sources.

Q. What kind of review is planned by new Health Minister James Reilly?

A. He is concerned that the price tag of €650m is too high, and believes it can be built for less.

He is on record as not opposing the site, but said if the outside review recommends another location he would look at it.

It remains to be seen how wide-ranging the review is, and whether it will revisit problems of access and so on.

Other sites have been offered free for the hospital, including one outside the city at Newlands Cross.

Irish Independent

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