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'It's never too late to do the right thing': Children's hospital controversy rumbles on

There is still large opposition to the new hospital being built at the St James’s site in the city centre.

Plans for the new children's hospital at the St James' site.
Plans for the new children's hospital at the St James' site.

Updated: 10.45am

OVER 50 TDS yesterday attended a presentation seriously criticising the government’s decision to place the new national Children’s Hospital at the site of St James’s hospital.

Dr Fin Breatnach and Aisling McNiffe of ‘Connolly for Kids Hospital’  and Jonathan Irwin of the Jack & Jill Foundation spoke to TDs and senators alerting them to their opinion that the St James’s Hospital site is not the right decision.

They warned of long delays and cost over-runs and pointed out that the cost has almost trebled already from the original 2012 estimate of €404 million quoted by St James’s for the delivery of the hospital.

According to a spokesman for Connolly for Kids, the hospital could be delivered at the Connolly site within three years of the date of the government decision to build it there. It was also claimed that there would not be a financial loss associated with works currently in progress at the site as the site requires clearing for any future development.

proposed site The proposed site at Connolly Hospital which was rejected.

Independent TD Mattie McGrath, who hosted yesterday’s meeting, said that an all-party motion calling for the suspension of the proposed National Children’s Hospital project at St James’s is now “a distinct possibility”.

He said: “We have significant momentum at present in terms of the admission of the HSE to admit that it simply cannot afford the project. This should, at the very least, demand an immediate halt to the reckless and extravagant overspending that is associated with this ill-fated project.

It is never too late to do the right thing especially when that option will certainly lead to the some of the sickest children avoiding a premature death.

The news comes as it emerged that the Public Accounts Committee is to invite the board of the new hospital to appear before it to discuss the escalating construction costs, according to RTÉ.

It had originally been projected to cost in the region of €650 million before equipment costs are factored in. However, estimates are now reaching €1 billion.

Last year, Taoiseach Enda Kenny took a firm line in relation to criticisms about the location of the hospital.

The Taoiseach said the decision on the hospital’s location has been made and the work is proceeding on the St James’s site.

He said: “The decision was made after years of discussion about the principle of building a national children’s hospital and the location where it should be built.

“That argument is finished and a decision has been made. The application has been granted planning permission and has been approved by An Bord Pleanála. A fabulous site at St James’s Hospital was chosen in 2012.”

Previously it was proposed to have the hospital on the Mater Hospital site, however this plan collapsed.

The proposed four storey building – rising to seven storeys at its highest point above ground – will have 384 in-patient beds, an oval pavilion set in a therapeutic rooftop garden for children, as well as accommodation for parents. There are to be over 1,000 car park spaces, with over 600 reserved for visitors and patients.

Read:Kenny says there won’t be an inquiry into media ownership in Ireland>

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