Decision on children’s hospital is delayed

by Ian Begley

A decision on planning permission for the new Children’s Hospital has been delayed by three months. There has been wide spread opposition from a number of residents and groups who want the hospital to be located at Connolly, Blanchardstown instead of at St James’s Hospital.
Independent, statutory body, An Bord Pleanala (ABP) was due to make a decision on the €650m development last week, but have now said that a decision will be announced before May 12.
The delay is due to the “complexity of issues in the case”, according to a letter sent to interested parties by ABP.
Recently, organisations representing children nationwide have united to launch a national petition to build the new children’s hospital at the 145-acre M50 Connolly site instead of at St James’s.
The group, which counts the Jack & Jill Foundation, Mummypages.ie, the New Children’s Hospital Alliance, Jimmy Sheehan, Orthopaedic Surgeon and founder of the Blackrock Clinic, is urging voters around the country to become informed, sign the petition and make it a doorstep issue before “it is too late”.
They believe that there are many advantages to developing the new children’s hospital in Blanchardstown, such as a potential 145-acre site, easier access to those living outside Dublin, extensive parking possibilities, and co-location with Connolly Adult Hospital and the new Rotunda Maternity Hospital. They also believe the hospital would be cheaper and faster to build at Connolly.
According to Jim Sheehan “There is a saving of at least €200m by building at Connolly and that it could be operational within two years. The St James’s site is riddled with construction complications and will be prone to cost overruns and construction delays.”
The Connolly site is also receiving support from parents of sick children across Ireland. Fionnbar Walsh, father of the late Kerry teenager Donal Walsh, said he firmly believes the Children’s Hospital should be located beside the M50 for better access for rural communities, saying that, “Trying to cram it into a city centre site is not good for the rest of the country”.
Sam Hogan, mother of a five-year-old girl with a life-long illness, says that, “Connolly would be the fairy-tale, it would tick all the boxes and be a fantastic hospital for our children, whereas St James’s is just going to be exactly what we already have.”
Cllr David McGuinness (Ind), who is also backing this campaign, has expressed anger at the delay on the planning decision on St James’s Street site for the National Children’s Hospital.
“Given my strongly-held view that Connolly Blanchardstown is the most appropriate location in the country, I am now challenging Ministers Leo Varadkar and Joan Burton to show leadership on this issue and stand with their community in Dublin West in support of the Blanchardstown Site,” he said.
Commenting on the hospital’s delay, local minister Leo Varadkar said: “Every further year that the children’s hospital is delayed could potentially cost another €50m. Temple Street is very old and no longer fit for purpose, and the same applies to parts of Crumlin. There is no case for any further delays. Arguments about the site have been going on for decades now. If we change the site again, no child alive today will ever get to use the new hospital.
“An Bord Pleanala will consider all of the planning issues independently and will make it’s decision before the summer. I am calling on everyone to back the decision once it’s made. Children can’t wait much longer.”

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