Farmers offer free greenfield site for children's hospital


MINISTER FOR Health James Reilly has been offered a free greenfield site between Dublin airport and Ballymun on which to develop the troubled national paediatric hospital.

In a letter to the Minister, the farmers, who own the 200-acre site at Merryfalls/Silloge in north Dublin, said it had the potential to speed up the development of the hospital.

“A hospital on this site could be built in less than 36 months with planning approval. It will also be highly competitive to develop since work on a greenfield site is much simpler than complex works in a restricted site, working around a functioning hospital such as the Mater,” the letter said.

Fergus Connon, Silloge, Finglas, and his brother Frank Connon, Birr, Co Offaly, said the advantages of the site, which is adjacent to the M50, included sufficient space to develop a full medical campus similar to the plan for the hospital at the Mater, which was rejected last month by An Bord Pleanála.

They claimed it also has the space to fit all three Dublin children’s hospitals, a 25,000- metre squared national maternity hospital and full on-site research and education facilities.

In 2004, the same site was also approved as a potential location for Mountjoy Prison as part of a process which eventually favoured Thornton Hall as the prison redevelopment site.

While acknowledging the McKinsey report on a new national children’s hospital had stated the preferred option would be co-location, last night’s submission said McKinsey did not allocate the same conditionality on other key criteria such as access, teaching and research, speed of delivery and site space.

The Coombe Women and Infants University Hospital sent a proposal to Dr Reilly last week offering to develop the new children’s hospital on a 20-acre site near the Coombe and St James’s hospitals.

Having considered the planning decision to reject the preferred Mater proposal at its meeting last week, the Cabinet is today due to agree the terms of reference of a children’s hospital review group to be chaired by Frank Dolphin, the businessman and former Health Service Executive chairman.

A spokesman for the Minister last night confirmed receipt of the farmers’ proposal. He said the Cabinet meeting would be agreeing the terms of reference for the review group and would not be considering site submissions.