Friday 24 March 2017

Fiasco grows as children suffer

Yesterday's decision by An Bord Pleanala to refuse planning permission for the proposed National Children's Hospital at the Mater, hopefully marks the final act of what can only be described as a fiasco. With €35m having already been squandered on the project, virtually no one -- politicians, the Department of Health, the HSE, medical professionals and others involved -- emerges from this sorry affair with their reputations enhanced.

Ever since the original decision to locate the new National Children's Hospital on the Mater site was announced in June 2006, the project had been dogged by controversy. The suspicion, whether justified or not, that the decision in favour of the location was at least partially motivated by political considerations -- the Mater was located in former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern's constituency -- has lingered like a particularly unpleasant odour.

What is certainly true is that these suspicions poisoned debate on the issue of where the National Children's Hospital should be located. However, even if political considerations played no part in the decision, there were still enormous problems with the Mater site. Located to the north of Dublin city centre it was not readily accessible to people living outside the M50 or even to those living south of the Liffey. Not surprisingly, the notion of a "National" Children's Hospital that wasn't readily accessible to over 90pc of the country's population struck many people as absurd.

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