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Sisters make Mater offer to save children hospital plan

A LAST-minute offer from the Sisters of Mercy could rescue Mater Hospital as the preferred location once again for the new national children's hospital.

In February, An Bord Pleanala refused planning permission for the €650m project at the Mater Hospital because the proposed 16-storey building was too high.

Reports today said the Sisters of Mercy have agreed to cede the original Mater Hospital building to the State in a new plan to beat the 56-day deadline set by the Government last month.

The use of the old adult hospital would allow architects to reduce the number of floors of the new hospital. It is understood that the Sisters of Mercy offer follows their concern that further delays could mean the new children's hospital would be built on another site.

"The sisters were very worried about their legacy after all the dedication and service they have given to the Mater," a source close to the order said.

The sisters have been associated with the Mater, a voluntary Catholic hospital, for more than 150 years.

The Mater has joined forces with the Rotunda and Temple Street hospitals in the plan to rescue the hospital site for the Mater.


Chairman of the Children's University Hospital, Temple Street, Donal Walsh said they had written to Dr Frank Dolphin, chairman of the recently established National Paediatric Hospital Review Group, seeking a meeting to present their proposal.

The three hospitals said their "tripartite submission" would involve a redesign of the rejected scheme with a reduction in height "to comply with local area planning".

The scheme would make full provision for "tri located" adult, maternity and paediatric services,and could be built with "minimal delay," they said in a statement.

The nuns' offer of the old Victorian cut-stone adult hospital with an inner garden square returns the Mater site to the position of preferred location for the new children's hospital, observers said.

The National Children's Hospital Development Committee which has the responsibility for the project, will include the breakthrough in new proposals to the review group set up to recommend the final site.

Proposals for at least 15 alternative sites for the new national Children's hospital have been submitted to the review group.