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'A bizarre choice': Labour says the new children's hospital shouldn't be called Phoenix

Leader Brendan Howlin said the word had “no linkage to Irish history or culture”.

Construction is already underway on the new children's hospital.
Construction is already underway on the new children's hospital.
Image: Sam Boal/Rollingnews.ie

THE LABOUR PARTY is calling on the government to reverse its decision to name the new children’s hospital Phoenix Children’s Health.

Leader Brendan Howlin said it was “unclear why so much was invested in an extensive process to name the National Children’s Hospital” and said naming it after someone like Dr Kathleen Lynn would be more apt.

His criticisms come after the medical boards of all three children’s hospitals in Dublin expressed their displeasure at the plans to name the hospital Phoenix.

They argued against it because Arizona in the US is already home to a large academic centre called Phoenix Children’s Hospital. This would cause confusion at international meetings, they said.

It also said the name is insensitive to the families of children whose organs were retained and subsequently incinerated.

Howlin said: “Over the weekend, several commentators have suggested that naming the hospital after Dr Kathleen Lynn would be more appropriate – serving as a fitting tribute to one of the many women who fought for equality in Ireland, and for the best possible treatment for sick children.

[Minister for Health] Simon Harris has an opportunity to put an end to all of this. He should issue a direction that the National Children’s Hospital simply be named as it is, or alternatively, that it should be renamed in honour of Kathleen Lynn.

Lynn was a Sinn Féin politician and doctor, who was involved in the 1916 Easter Rising. She established St Ultan’s Children’s Hospital in 1919, and provided healthcare to Dublin’s inner city poor.

“New opportunities”

Construction begun on the new children’s hospital earlier this year. It will be located at the St James’s Hospital campus on the outskirts of Dublin city centre.

The project is projected to cost over €1 billion in full and is due to be completed in 2021.

When it is completed it will incorporate the staff and operations of Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital Crumlin, Temple Street Children’s University Hospital and Tallaght Hospital.

It was announced in August that the hospital will be fully secular.

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Speaking last Monday, Harris said having a name for the new hospital made the project “even more real and meaningful”.

In a statement, the Department of Health said that the name “symbolises the birth of new opportunities”.

“The Phoenix is a mythological symbol of renewal, community regeneration, vision, hope and inspiration,” the statement reads.

It is a fitting and apt name for a service which will have a profound impact on the lives of children and their families in Ireland for generations to come.

With reporting from Cormac Fitzgerald.

Read: Not everyone’s happy with the name for the children’s hospital

Read: The new children’s hospital will be called… Phoenix Children’s Health

About the author:

Sean Murray

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