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Wednesday 21 March 2018

Developers furious as sites fail to make children's hospital shortlist

Eilish O'Regan Health Correspondent

THE backers of three sites for the new national children's hospital are furious after their proposals failed to make the shortlist for the multi-million-euro project.

The Irish Independent has learned that backers of separate plans for siting the hospital in the Phoenix Park, Merryfalls/Sillogue and Swords failed to secure face-to-face meetings with the review group examining the bids.

The developers of the proposed sites are understood to be furious at the snub.

The review group, chaired by businessman Frank Dolphin, received up to 40 separate offers of sites for the hospital.

It delivered a report to Health Minister James Reilly last week, setting out a series of options.

However, it now appears that three high-profile greenfield sites have been excluded from contention, despite the filing of detailed submissions.

Among those snubbed were builders Flynn and O'Flaherty, which offered an eight-acre site free of charge at the Phoenix Park. Farming brothers Fergus and Frank Connon, who offered land free of charge at Merryfalls/Sillogue, close to the M50, also failed to secure a meeting with the review group.

Also turned down was the Broadmeadow Group from Swords, which was offering a substantial site.

The snubbed parties are understood to be particularly aggrieved because the proposers of a site in Belcamp, north Dublin -- championed by supporters of Health Minister James Reilly -- were given a face-to-face meeting.

The backers of the Belcamp proposal secured a meeting on May 25, despite the fact that no details have been published of its costings. Belcamp also failed to receive any public endorsement from the Royal College of Surgeons, which would be crucial to its success.


Representatives of NAMA, which offered 11 separate sites for sale around the capital, were also not met by the review group. However, it did not include any planning proposals or costings.

The frontrunners in the race remain the Mater and St James's, with influential officials in the Department of Health favouring the co-located model proposed for both sites.

Dr Reilly is expected to bring a final proposal to Cabinet shortly, once an independent analysis of the costings and planning claims made by respective bidders is complete.

A spokesman for the backers of the Phoenix Park site confirmed they had not been invited to make their case.

He added: "We regard it as rather strange, given that we believe the site is very viable and outstanding, with amenities and planning permission."

Francis Whelan, chief executive of the Broadmeadow Group, told this newspaper that he had written to the review group twice to request a meeting but did not receive any reply.

"We submitted a very detailed and professional report. There was a substantial investment in the entire proposal. I am disappointed we did not get a meeting," he said.

Irish Independent

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