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Children's Hospital

Reilly: delay to hospital construction will be made up 'very quickly'

James Reilly told an Oireachtas committee that the Government remains 100 per cent committed to the National Children’s Hospital.

MINISTER FOR HEALTH James Reilly has said that although he is disappointed with An Bord Pleanála’s decision to refuse planning permission for the new National Children’s Hospital, it is only a delay and not an end to the project.

Speaking to a joint committee on health and children today, Reilly said that his department will seek to “make up the time very quickly”.

A review body – chaired by Frank Dolphin – will be established to look at the planning board’s decision and make urgent recommendations on the next steps to take.

We shall sit down and examine the decision…with great urgency and immediacy… to make sure that children in Ireland get the best treatment in the best environment.

Reilly also moved to reassure parents of sick children that the hospital will be built – whether at the proposed Mater site or at a different location.

The Government is 100 per cent committed to this project. Funding and the “innovative arrangements to ensure funding remains available” are in place, he said.

Fine Gael TD Jerry Buttimer who chaired this morning’s meeting also expressed the committee’s disappointment with the decision and said it would like to work with the Government on future plans for the hospital.

The €650 million hospital was due to commence construction later this year on the Mater site with the first patients due to be treated in late 2016.

The planning decision accepted the overall principle of the hospital at the proposed site but raised concerns over the scale and the impact on the environment.

The design would be inconsistent with the existing scale and character of Dublin city and the established character of the local area, An Bord Pleanála said in its decision on the planning application today. It cited the protected structures, streetscapes and areas of conservation value in nearby O’Connell Street and North Great George’s Street in its decision.

It described the proposed development as “overdevelopment” of the Mater campus and said that it would be contrary to the proper planning and sustainable development of the area.

The planning application was authorised by Reilly last July after an independent commission made a decision on where the hospital should be located. The expert group endorsed the inner city centre location.

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

Poll: Where should the new National Children’s Hospital be built?

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