PARENTS and advocates for some of the country's sickest children are appalled by the Government's decision to move ahead with plans to build the new children's hospital in the inner city.
Following approval from Health Minister James Reilly on the blueprint brief for the project at St James' Hospital, families say they are "not happy" and alliance groups "vow to oppose it".
Rita Dempsey, a mother-of-three, attends Our Lady's Children's Hospital at Crumlin two to three times a week with her three children, who all have severe physical and intellectual disabilities.
Shona (13), Tom (10) and Lily (6), all suffer from a chromosome disorder and have cardiac, orthopaedic, respiratory and liver conditions.
All three are wheelchair bound and two need to be peg fed. "I think plans for the hospital to go up at St James' Hospital is absolutely ridiculous; it's okay if you are travelling within the Dublin commuter area, but the last thing I need is to drive into the city centre, which I don't even know that well, and worry about where I will park my van," said Rita, who lives in Curracloe, Co Wexford.
John O'Leary, father to Tom (3) who lives with multiple intellectual disabilities, said he too is concerned about access to the hospital, even though he will be travelling from Swords, Co Dublin.
"It just doesn't make sense for people coming from all around the country to drive into the city.
"They may have 2,000 spaces in the car park and that's great, but it's not much use if we can't get to them quickly and easily."
The new children's hospital will include 384 in-patient beds, 62 critical care beds and single en-suite rooms. It will also have 85 daycare beds, 14 theatres, 111 outpatient and consulting examination rooms, an emergency department and two satellite centres.
Both parents said their problem is not with the design of the hospital or the service it will provide, but with its location and the Government's lack of consultation.
Eilish Hardiman, CEO of the Children's Hospital Group, said the issues will be addressed and information will be provided.
She said: "Their concerns are absolutely valid and we do not want mums and dads parking far away and have to put them in wheelchairs and travel a far distance to get to the entrance of the hospital.
"There will be emergency drop-off areas and there will be parking for long-term patients."
The preferred design team for the new children's hospital is due to be announced today.