Tuesday 20 March 2018

Minister's favoured hospital site moved into constituency

Fiach Kelly Political Correspondent

A greenfield site advanced by Health Minister Dr James Reilly for a massive new €1.2bn medical hub with a national children's hospital was moved into the minister's constituency in the redraw of the political map.

The site, around the Belcamp area at the end of the M50, was identified by Dr Reilly and others around him as a possible location for a children's hospital and a wider health, business and education campus.

The project was mooted for the site near Dublin Airport and promoted as a solution to the children's hospital headache.

Earlier this year, sources in Irish Rail also confirmed they had been tentatively approached by people from "Reilly's end" about connecting the proposed Dublin Airport DART spur to the new campus.

However, it is understood there have been no contacts since then.

Dr Reilly has said the final site will be announced before the end of the summer.

Since the plans became public two months ago, Belcamp was moved into Dr Reilly's expanded Dublin Fingal constituency in the redraw of the electoral map by the independent constituency commission.

One of Dublin's major hospitals, Beaumont Hospital, has held talks on moving to the site as part of the proposed medical hub.

However, Beaumont has not been as prominent in competing for the children's hospital as others in the running, such as the Mater or Connolly Hospital in Blanchardstown.

Sources close to the process last night said there is "continuing pressure" from the Department of Health on Beaumont to be more gung-ho in its approach. Dr Reilly is understood to have discussed the Belcamp idea with Taoiseach Enda Kenny, Finance Minister Michael Noonan and Jobs Minister Richard Bruton.

In the wake of the proposal, Beaumont Hospital said the Belcamp idea "offers considerable merits" and said it had started to engage with "a number" of interested parties on moving there.

But it stressed the talks were at an exploratory stage.

Some in the hospital were understood to be enthusiastic about the idea, with others placating what they saw as plans being pushed by the Department of Health.

The Belcamp development, as envisaged, would be between 400 and 500 acres in size, and may also include pharmaceutical and IT companies and third-level institutions, with the Royal College of Surgeons mentioned by sources.

Irish Independent

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News