Wednesday 14 November 2018

Residents are in turmoil over new children's hospital

An artist's impression of the new National Children's Hospital to be built beside St James's Hospital in Dublin
An artist's impression of the new National Children's Hospital to be built beside St James's Hospital in Dublin

Claire Mc Cormack

Hundreds of residents living near the proposed site for the new National Children's Hospital have raised serious concerns about the project and its impact on their quality of life.

At least 10 resident associations, representing families living in more than 400 homes, confirmed their intention to object to the proposed site at St James's Hospital when the planning application is lodged at the end of July.

Locals say they feel they are being "shafted" and claim both Government and developers are "fudging" issues around traffic, parking and pollution chaos.

However, project managers insist they are mindful of residents' unease and that they are addressing their concerns.

Local resident Cathy O'Connor said: "We are not getting the detail that we want, we've been asking about the traffic plan for so long and we still don't have it".

"I've been living here for 25 years and I find it incredibly difficult to get in and out of my house so it beggars belief that the politicians think it will be accessible to all the children of Ireland," she said.

On Tuesday, locals gathered at a meeting organised by the New Children's Hospital Alliance (NCHA). The NCHA is a group of health professionals and parents groupings who are opposed to building the hospital at the St James's site. They are in favour of a greenfield site near the M50.

Mary Kearney of the South Circular Road residents association said: "We all agree that we need a children's hospital but St James's isn't the right place for it. For selfish reasons, the impact on traffic is going to be huge and it will limit expansion for the adult hospital in the future," she said.

A large number of the residents have attended information sessions with the National Paediatric Development Board (NPHDB) but remain sceptical.

John Pollock, project director at NPHDB stressed that he is "very conscious" that the building will have an impact on the local community.

"We are doing everything we can to reduce the impact. I understand the traffic problem from their perspective -but a solution is there and we will discuss it with them at our next session".

Mr Pollock, an engineer, said they are particularly sensitive to the concerns of residents who say their homes have bad structural defects.

Joe and Mary McGuinness, who have lived on O'Reilly Avenue for 58 years, claimed a previous extension at the hospital caused damage to their house and are sceptical of assurances that the construction of a seven-storey hospital, with three floors underground, won't cause any damage. "It's ridiculous," said Mary.

At the moment, the NPHDB are working on a traffic plan.

Sunday Independent

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