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Now Coombe could be site for new children's hospital

THESE are the ambitious plans to construct the new national children's hospital on a 20-acre site in the south of the capital.

Senior management at one of Ireland's largest maternity hospitals have made a bold bid to secure the backing for their multi-million euro proposal.

Our pictures show the plans to build the badly needed facility on the Coombe site in the south inner city.

The plans were submitted to Health Minister James Reilly earlier this month and will be examined by the newly established national children's hospital review group.

The proposal -- which is one of several under consideration -- claims the hospital can be built by 2016.

If accepted, it would create a health "cluster" on the Southside -- with the site situated within 400 metres of St James Hospital.

Informed Government sources today described the Coombe plans as "impressive" but emphasised that the review group has not yet met to discuss the bid in detail. The same sources told the Herald that while not all proposals will be considered, the Coombe bid "certainly will be".

"It's a very strong proposal -- there's been a lot of work put into it from the Coombe's point of view and it makes a very strong case to have the hospital built on the site," a source explained.

Master of the Coombe, Dr Chris Fitzpatrick, stated that the proposal is boosted by An Bord Pleanala approval. "The design of the National Paediatric Hospital on this site will create a warm and welcoming, child-friendly world with high quality, well-ventilated daylit spaces, landscaped courts, gardens and terraces," he said.

The review group, chaired by former HSE boss Frank Dolphin, is expected to meet for the first time next week. Its first step will be to examine the recent An Bord Pleanala decision to shelve a controversial proposal to build the hospital on the Mater site.

The group will decide whether an amended proposal should be made or whether the hospital should be located elsewhere, such as on the Coombe site.

The proposal is one of several on the table.