Sunday 21 July 2019

'Children's hospital will bring traffic chaos' - Independent TD Michael Fitzmaurice

Michael Fitzmaurice
Michael Fitzmaurice

Claire McCormack

Independent TD Michael Fitzmaurice has hit out at the controversial site of the new national children's hospital in St James' Hospital, where he carried out building work in the 1990s.

The Roscommon-South Leitrim deputy added his voice to the groundswell of opposition to the location of the proposed new oval-shaped children's hospital at the inner city Dublin site.

"I did work there years ago and I know it's a bottleneck. It is a good hospital and I'm not saying anything against it, but if you're trying to build something for all the people in the country the nearer the M50 the better," he told the Sunday Independent.

"No one wants to waste money, but I think the location needs to be looked at again before they go near the rest of it. It's never too late to do something right," he said. "Blanchardstown has 143 acres, you'd imagine that is the place for it".

Last month, an artist's impression of the exterior of the proposed new National Children's Hospital at St James's was unveiled.

The design was described by Health Minister Leo Varadkar as "breathtaking".

"It's clear from the open-plan building, the gardens, the sports facilities and the state-of-the-art wards that this is a unique building," he said.

The design team believe that the hospital design, together with that of the two satellite centres will "support enhanced clinical outcomes for children and young people in Ireland".

An application for planning permission for the new hospital, providing 384 inpatient beds including 62 critical care beds, is to be lodged next month, with the hospital scheduled to open in 2020.

Despite the badly-needed employment the development will bring to the inner city community, local residents said they were "dreading" the looming "traffic chaos" if planners give the green light to the site. Speaking at a meeting last week, members of the High Road and Kilmainham Lane Residents Association, who said they haven't been officially consulted on the €650m project, revealed their concerns over rush-hour gridlock, noise pollution and impact on their quality of life.

Dave Boardman, who lives on the South Circular Road, less than 10 minutes away from the proposed site, said: "Traffic is bad enough now, I'd be worried that we'll barely be able to get out the front door if it gets planning permission here. Even ambulances and fire brigades get trapped with the traffic. It's going to be impossible for parents with a sick child in the back of the car."

Jimmy Andrews, who has lived on Kilmainham Lane for 53 years, added: "The hierarchy tell you that it's good planning, but to the ordinary person the whole place is going to be a bottleneck, I just don't see the logic."

He added that the area becomes very busy when summer music festivals are held at the Royal Hospital Kilmainham.

Maurice Coen, a local bus driver who is regularly caught in peak-time gridlock, said: "I'm not against it, but I do feel that it could be more centrally located around the M50 as it would be more accessible from all areas of the country and we would have a clearer traffic flow more directly to it".

Sunday Independent

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