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Old grey Mater

The dogs, the lamp posts and the stuff between them are well aware that the site of the new children's hospital at the Mater is utterly impractical for Joe Public.

The notion that €36m was spent on a project before someone in government had the common sense to seek 'approval in principal' from An Bord Pleanala is not only unbelievable but is a brutal testimony to the gullibility of the Irish people; to our willingness to see things precisely in the way we are encouraged to see them.

Really! Is it not perfectly clear to all of us that the Irish majority will apparently believe anything if we are told it by someone in a suit? Can we not see that it is the millions paid, and yet to be paid, before the State can extract itself from the Harney-Ahern project, that is the real issue here?

Before Bertie went into politics he worked as a book-keeper at the Mater. During the boom, when paper wasn't worth the money it was written on, the Mater project ticked all the Bertie boxes -- a fitting gift to his constituents, and a meaty bone to the PDs and their dream of co-location where the public would pay and the private could profit.

However, when the Tiger's roar became as quiet as a well-pensioned minister, the Fianna Fail-PD dream of public and private medical-marriage lost the dowry that was to pay for these delusions of grandeur.

The single most masterful show of recent Irish politics was to convert the Mater project into a public debate about 'location' and 'height'. We have been skillfully shepherded to consider this debate NOT in the context of its probity but in the benign arena of urban planning. Here, we the people can discuss all we want... we can have our car any colour "as long as it's black".

The Mater project foundered because the building is "too high". It does not matter that An Bord Pleanala recently granted permission for a new Liberty Hall -- destined to be three storeys higher than the too-tall Mater.

Dr Marcus de Brun
Rush, Co Dublin

Irish Independent