Walls of new €1.4bn children's hospital finally taking shape
It has taken many years but the first walls, slabs and columns that will form part of the above ground building of the new €1.4bn National Children's Hospital are now finally visible at its busy construction site in Dublin.
The building of the hospital - which is at the centre of controversy over its escalating cost - has continued during the debate and it is on course to be complete by the end of 2022, opening its doors to patients in 2023.
The development board overseeing the hospital said basement excavation and piling are now substantially complete.
It comes as the row over its cost is set to ignite with the publication of a Government-commissioned report by PwC into how the price went up by €450m since April 2017.
The delayed report was due this week, but the Department of the Taoiseach failed to respond yesterday when asked if it was delivered.
The main hospital is sited at St James's Hospital. There are two satellite centres in Connolly Hospital and Tallaght Hospital.
The satellite centre in Connolly Hospital is now almost complete and is being snagged before being handed over this month for fit out.
The aim is to have the facility, which will include an urgent care centre and paediatric outpatient clinic, open to patients in July.
Construction of the satellite centre in Tallaght Hospital started in February and is due to open in 2020.
Construction staff and building executives insisted yesterday during a media tour that the site is fully able to accommodate a maternity hospital and this was incorporated in an overall design.
There are plans to link a maternity hospital, which would mean the transfer of the Coombe, to the new children's hospital and the adult St James's Hospital.
Planning permission has yet to be sought for the maternity hospital.
Construction company BAM, which has the contract, is to continue building, the board's new chairman Fred Barry said.
Meanwhile, Joe McPartlin of Ceannt Fort Residents' Association said today sees the first of a series of protests by residents surrounding the building site of the hospital.
"We are protesting against the dirt, dust, noise, rat infestation, air pollution, traffic congestion and severe damage to houses.
"We are expected to bear the burden and concede freely to these impositions with no compensation or safeguards for the right to live in peace," he said.
"Locating the new hospitals at the St James's site has been shown to be a huge imposition not only on the local community but on the taxpayer, the cost making it the most expensive hospital on Earth.
"Yet this hospital of questionable utility is being foisted on the local communities around St James's, causing great distress and disruption.
"We intend to protest on a rolling basis," he said.
The hospital is being built on a site "in one of the most densely populated areas of the country".
The protest will be peaceful and non-obstructive, said Mr McPartlin.