Broad welcome across political divide for decision

Wed, Nov 7, 2012, 00:00

The decision to locate the national children's hospital on the St James's hospital campus in Dublin was welcomed by Opposition and Government politicians.

However, some Opposition TDs cautioned the Government to maintain proper funding for existing hospital facilities for children and urged it to begin the development urgently.

Fianna Fáil health spokesman Billy Kelleher said he would not accept "any diminution of services currently available" at Crumlin, Temple Street and Tallaght "prior to the full operation" of the new hospital. He would ask Minister for Health James Reilly how he would deal with existing children's facilities ahead of the new hospital being completed.

Call for clarity

He urged the Government to bring clarity in relation to funding for the site and the timeline for delivery and to expedite the design, planning and development process.

"We have never sought to score political points on an issue as serious as this. I hope today's decision brings an end to the relentless debate about where this new hospital is to be located and that there are no planning difficulties that arise with this new location," he said.

The priority was to "move quickly to the planning and development stage", Sinn Féin's health and children spokesman Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin said as he welcomed the decision on the "long overdue" project. Noting that the new hospital "will not be opened for at least six years", People Before Profit TD Joan Collins said children who were ill now could not wait for proper facilities.

'Urgent need'

"There is an urgent need for investment and the situation whereby wards were closed in Crumlin due to cutbacks cannot be repeated," Ms Collins said .

Fine Gael TD and chairman of the Oireachtas Committee on Health Jerry Buttimer said the focus could now turn to "putting the project out to tender so that a world-class facility can be delivered". He said it was the very beginning of the process which should see the new paediatric facility completed by the end of 2017 or the beginning of 2018.

The selection would bring "great prestige" to the area and was "the equivalent of a major multinational company setting up in the area, and will give a huge boost to the local economy", Labour TD Michael Conaghan said.

Labour TD Eric Byrne said the proposal had "overwhelming support" among the staff of Crumlin hospital.

Disappointment was expressed by hospitals which lost out on the site.

Temple Street Children's University Hospital said St James's "does not facilitate true tri-location".

Tallaght Hospital Action Group said it was "deeply disappointed" at the decision.