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Fears as vital health centre is put up for sale

FEARS are growing for the future of a medical health centre in South Dublin after the HSE has put it up for sale.

Shankill Medical Centre is now for sale by public tender on July 29 as a prime redevelopment opportunity and residents fear it will close.

Local representative Cllr Denis O'Callaghan has criticised the HSE's move to sell the vital health facility and depend on a private developer to rebuild it.

"Obviously there's going to be a private sector investment in it, and we don't know what the payback will be to the developer, or if he's looking for a portion of the site.

"The site should be developed for a medical centre only but there are no guarantees [that will happen]."

Losing Shankill's only health centre would be "disastrous" for the area which has undergone enormous population growth in the past, according to Cllr O'Callaghan.

"It's accepted that there's a requirement for it, but I'm not sure that a Public Private Partnership is the best way to go. Public Private Partnerships are all very well in times of economic boom but I'm not sure how interested a partner would be in a time of economic recess.

"They may just sit on it if it's purchased, wait until the economic times get better, and then come back with a proposal which financially benefits them. That's the danger."

Locals are demanding that the HSE give a commitment that the new centre will be built six to 12 months after the old one is knocked down.

"Once the HSE dispose of the site it leaves them wide open in my opinion. The worst case scenario is the HSE could lose the site and Shankill would be without a health centre."

A HSE spokesperson stressed that the health centre will be replaced after it is sold by public tender.

She said: "A number of parties expressed interest in developing the existing health centre site for Primary Care and because of this interest, the HSE has decided to offer the site for sale by public tender, on the condition that the site is developed for Primary Care Health Use."