| 11.2°C Dublin

Top surgeon calls for U-turn over new hospital site

A respected heart surgeon has withdrawn his support for the new National Children's Hospital which will be constructed in the centre of Dublin.

Maurice Neligan (below), a former surgeon, said he felt there was a heavy political influence in the decision making process for the hospital.

"There is a lack of transparency about all this and certainly there is a lack of transparency about how the original selection was done," he said.

Mr Neligan said that the political pressure behind the €600m centre being built at the Mater Hospital site was simply because the location is within the constituency of former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern.

In spite of heavy criticism for its limited access outside of the Dublin area, the decision was made to join three of the country's children's hospitals -- the National Children's Hospital in Tallaght, Our Lady's Children's Hospital Crumlin and Children's University Hospital Temple Street -- on the Mater site.

However Mr Neligan said that he has now reconsidered his support for the plan after visiting the proposed site.

"There is no green space, nothing to look at. It doesn't seem now to me to be the best thing for the children."

He has now pleaded with bosses to reconsider the decision before construction officially begins.

"It is time to draw back before you dig the hole in the ground and go up 16 stories," he added.

Although construction has not yet begun, an estimated €23m has been spent in advance to fund contracts, project designs and public relations services.

A spokesperson for the Department of Health said that the plans would still continue as decided, adding: "The department is aware of Mr Neligan's comments."