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Leave nothing to chance

IT may be standard practice as a means of raising finance in many countries, but planning to build a world-class children's hospital on the basis that one-sixth of the cost is paid for by charitable donations leaves too many questions unanswered.

As such it threatens to overshadow the project which, regardless of arguments about location, is a major advance and should provide an excellent environment for treatment.

The basic question is simple: why leave anything to chance on such a precious project? Why not factor in €110m from central funds? No one, even in these straitened times, would begrudge that amount to secure total funding for such an important development. It would anchor it in certainty and that is vital in these times.

The hospital has been mired in controversy since first mooted for the Mater Hospital site. And the surprise resignation of Philip Lynch as chairman of the development board raised further questions. Reportedly, he has expressed concern over the need to raise €200m -- or nearly one-third of the total projected cost -- from a combination of commercial and philanthropic sources.

When taken at face value, this suggests there are doubts in some quarters about the feasibility of such sums being raised.

There could, for example, be trouble ahead if targets are not met. Yet it would be unfair not to recognise the effort involved in getting this project moving. It is a rare opportunity to plan for treatment of generations of children to come in the best environment and conditions we can place at their disposal.

Which makes concerns over partial funding all the more lamentable.