THE presidents of two more third-level colleges have come out publicly in their support for Connolly Hospital in Blanchardstown as the site for the new national children's hospital.
Prof Brian MacCraith, president of Dublin City University, and Prof Philip Nolan, president of NUI Maynooth, believe it has the potential to create a world-class medical research and innovation hub.
The academics were joined in a statement of support by Prof Cathal Kelly of the Royal College of Surgeons, which has already backed Connolly hospital in north-west Dublin as a site.
It is still unclear when the proposed location will be brought before Cabinet because of a delay in holding a meeting between Health Minister James Reilly, Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore on the issue.
They must have first sight of the minister's report, which will be based on the findings of the review group chaired by businessman Frank Dolphin, who looked at more than 40 sites.
The colleges said the debate around the location of the new children's hospital "had rightly focused on what is best for children and their families".
It said the discussion to date has focused on four issues: best clinical care for children, planning, access and cost.
The McKinsey report on the proposed site, commissioned by the government in 2006, considered the Connolly location the best in terms of planning, transport access, parking and, by implication, cost.
"The integration of Beaumont and Connolly Hospitals into a single structure addresses any concerns raised about the scope of clinical specialties available.
"Together the hospitals have the broadest range of child-facing specialties, including neurosurgery, transplantation, national poisons centre and the national cochlear implant centre.
"The hospital campus must have the capacity to accommodate at least 1,500 medical, nursing and other health-related students annually to train as the next generation of children's healthcare workers," they said.
They added: "The Connolly site, adjacent to the M50 and N7, has excellent road, rail and airport links. The site itself is over 150 acres in size, zoned for development; it is adjacent to a further 200 acres of IDA lands.
"This type of development will be supported by the existing co-location of IT and pharma companies in the area, such as Hewlett Packard, IBM, INTEL, Wyeth and Bristol Meyers Squibb," they said.