The go-ahead has been given for Ireland's new children's hospital and construction is due to begin this summer.
The long-awaited news was announced this morning that An Bord Pleanála have granted planning permission for the new children’s hospital on a campus shared with St. James’s Hospital.
The hospital, which will open in 2020, will merge the three existing hospitals in Crumlin, Temple St and Tallaght.
The green light follows years of debate and objections to proposed sites.
An Bord Pleanala originally turned down the Mater Hospital as a site, forcing the search for a location to go back to the drawing board.
The project will consist of:
The main construction at St James' Hospital campus will be made up of:
A two-level underground car park
There will also be improvements to the road throught he hospital campus and improvements to the buildings and roads present. The plans, published on Pleanala.ie, also report that a new road entrance will be built at Mount Brown.
The news was welcomed today by families of sick children, the country’s leading paediatric clinicians, the staff of the three children’s hospitals and the CEOs of Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital, Crumlin; Temple Street Children’s University Hospital and the National Children’s Hospital at Tallaght.
Children’s Hospital Group CEO Eilísh Hardiman said this morning: “This truly is a watershed day for children, young people and their families.
"Today’s decision will positively transform how paediatric services are delivered for children and young people here in Ireland.
"These buildings are a significant catalyst for how the new national model of care will be delivered.
"We are now firmly on our way to making this long awaited children’s hospital a reality," she continued.
"Anyone who deals with paediatric services in Ireland – as a patient, a parent or as a member of staff - fully understands how badly this new facility is needed.
"I would like to take this opportunity to thank the National Paediatric Hospital Development Board and the Design teams BDP & O’Connell Mahon, and all that contributed to getting us to this milestone”.
Speaking to RTE's Morning Ireland, Ms Hardiman said she expected construction to begin this summer.
The CEOs of Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital, Crumlin, the Temple Street Children’s University Hospital and the National Children’s Hospital at Tallaght Hospital, Helen Shortt, Mona Baker and David Slevin, jointly described the announcements as a "historic and exciting development for children’s healthcare services in Ireland".
They said the new hospital would be "world-class".
Meanwhile, CEO of St. James’s Hospital Lorcan Birthistle said: “We are excited at the opportunity this decision presents to further develop world class services on our campus and we look forward to the development of The Coombe Hospital maternity and women’s health services on campus in the future.”
Health Minister Leo Varadkar said he was "absolutely delighted" with the morning's update.
“This is great news for all the children of Ireland and means that we can now build a state-of-the-art word class Children’s Hospital of which we can truly be proud," he said.
"An Bord Pleanála has granted permission for this wonderful design. It’s a massive milestone for Irish children, young people and families.
“It will be the single biggest capital project in the history of Irish healthcare."
The opening date for the new children's hospital is autumn 2020 while the two satellite centres, in Connolly Hospital and Tallaght Hospital, which will be linked to the hospital, will open in 2018.
Minister Varadkar also joined Keelin Shanley on RTE Radio One’s Today with Sean O’Rourke to discuss the announcement.
“I got the phone call at 8.30am this morning, and I think it’s probably the best phone call I’ve ever received in politics,” he said.
“It was just wonderful. This has gone on since I was a medical student.”
He addressed opposition to the plans and concerns about air pollution and difficulties accessing the new site in Crumlin.
“There’s never going to be a perfect site. There’s never going to be unanimity on where the best site is, but I don’t think anyone can argue that this isn’t going to be a dramatic improvement on Crumlin and Temple Street.
“More important than the issues around parking and access, think of the benefits for the children,” he said.
Minister Varadkar also accepted that there may be difficulty in staffing the new hospital.
“Recruitment is a struggle, not just in Ireland but in other countries too. We have to be very competitive. Part of it is about paying conditions, and part of it is about the working environment,” he said, adding that he hoped the state-of-the-art facilities in the modern building would appeal to young graduates.
When asked about funding, he said he was confident that all of the money was in place for the new hospital “short of an asteroid hitting the planet”.