Sunday 17 November 2019

Father of the late campaigner Donal Walsh opposes plans for children's hospital

Fionnbar Walsh
Fionnbar Walsh
Donal Walsh
Michelle Forde with daughter Leah (2)
Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

The father of the late campaigner Donal Walsh is among the opponents of the new national children's hospital.

Oral hearings on the planning application to build the hospital on the site of St James's Hospital are expected in the middle of next month, the Irish Independent has learned.

Yesterday was the deadline for objections or submissions of support which An Bord Pleanála will consider before making a decision next year.

The submissions include strong opposition from some children's groups and parents, including Fionnbar Walsh, the father of Donal from Tralee, who died of cancer and was a patient of Crumlin hospital.

Mr Walsh said he had serious concerns about the site on the grounds of poor road and helicopter access, limited parking and a generally unsuitable environment.

The application, which is with An Bord Pleanála, is to build the long-awaited €650m hospital on the campus of St James's Hospital in the south inner city of Dublin.

Around 75 submissions from parents, doctors, residents and businesses - both for and against the location - were made by late afternoon but this was expected to climb to more than 100 before the close of business.

Those who made the written submissions are entitled to be called to the oral hearings, which will also hear the case in favour of the location from the national paediatric development board behind the project.

Health Minister Leo Varadkar, who has estimated that building work could begin within six months if the green light is given, is among those who has made a submission.

If work begins next year, it could be completed by 2020.

Michelle Forde, whose daughter Leah (2) has been attending Crumlin and Temple Street since she was born, said she was very worried about the stress of rush-hour traffic.

"If you are in a car with a child having a seizure, what do you do?" asked the Cork mother.

However, Louis Roden, chairman of the new Crumlin committee, whose two children suffer from cystic fibrosis, said he strongly supported the site and warned that any change of location would delay it again.

"It is important that it is co-located with a major teaching hospital. Other than that, it would be second-rate.

"I know where will be traffic issues but that is secondary to the healthcare my children will receive there," he said.

Other submissions have come from local residents, who are divided on the plan.

The development is supported by the Liberties Business Forum, which includes Diageo Ireland, saying it will dramatically benefit the area.

Dr Peter Greally, a consultant in Tallaght and Crumlin Hospitals, who says it will lead to better clinical outcomes.

Irish Independent

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