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Dublin: -1 °C Saturday 18 January, 2020

Hospitals in new push backing Mater site for National Children's Hospital

The Sisters of Mercy have reportedly offered to hand over the existing Mater hospital building to the State.

The location of the proposed National Children's Hospital on the Mater grounds
The location of the proposed National Children's Hospital on the Mater grounds
Image: Julien Behal/PA Wire/Press Association Images

THREE DUBLIN HOSPITALS are working on a new bid to locate the planned National Children’s Hospital on the current Mater site – hoping to overcome the objections of the planners who turned it down.

The Mater, Rotunda and Temple Street hospitals are co-operating on the new plan, Master of the Rotunda Hospital Dr Sam Coulter-Smith confirmed.

He said they would be making a joint submission to the review group set up by health minister Dr James Reilly in the wake of An Bord Pleanála’s refusal of the initial Mater plans.

What we’re going to bring to the review group is a new plan with adult, maternity and paediatric services on the one site. We feel this new plan will be able to answer the issues the planners have brought up in relation to height and density.

The Irish Times and Irish Independent report this morning that a reduction in height of the planned facility will be made possible because the Sisters of Mercy religious order, who own the current Mater building, are prepared to hand it over to the State.

Dr Coulter-Smith refused to comment on these reports. But he told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland that the Mater site was the “pre-eminent” one for the National Children’s Hospital, and that the three hospitals believed their new plan would be the “best available” to get a facility built quickly.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Today with Pat Kenny, Senator John Crown said the new plan appears to be a “potential solution” to the objections of An Bord Pleanála.

He said there would never be “unanimity” on any one site and called on authorities to “face down the opposition” and proceed with building works after making a swift decision.

However, Roisin Healy of the New Children’s Hospital Alliance said any new decision should be made transparently and in public by the review committee. “This affects all the children of this country, and the committee should be sitting in the open”, she said.

Jonathan Irwin, CEO of the Jack and Jill foundation for children with disabilities, warned on yesterday that the Mater site would not “even feature in the top ten” if sick children’s parents were listened to.

More: Planning board refuses permission for new National Children’s Hospital>

Column: ‘If we didn’t exist, paediatric hospitals would be overwhelmed’>

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Michael Freeman

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