Arson attacks at new national children’s hospital site are causing ‘grave concern’

Cameras installed in bid to counteract attacks, which are becoming more frequent

The board developing the new national children’s hospital has expressed “grave concern” about continuing arson attacks on the site, labelling the incidents as “unacceptable”.

The National Paediatric Hospital Development Board said it was concerned about the increased frequency and nature of the attacks, which first emerged last summer at the Dublin site.

In a bid to tackle the problem, cameras have been installed on site, there are enhanced identification measures for workers, and flammable objects are immediately disposed of.

At a meeting of the board in December, members were told that another two arson incidents were reported on site. The board discussed the measures the contractor had implemented to “mitigate the risks of further such incidents”. The main contractor on site is construction company BAM.


At an earlier meeting of the board in November, another arson incident on site was discussed. The board heard the contractor had implemented a large number of recommendations. The installation of cameras and “enhanced identification measures for workers had positively impacted the reduction of incidents”, the minutes state.

The board had also heard of examples of a number of arson incidents on site during an earlier meeting in October last year .

“The board expressed grave concern in relation to the incidents, deeming them as unacceptable,” the minutes state. It notes that disposing of flammable objects immediately was among the changes made by the contractor as part of a health and safety improvement plan . The board also discussed other improvements that could be made on foot of a Garda briefing note.

Third-party audits

Board members had “expressed concern” at the September meeting “regarding the increased frequency and nature of the incidents”.

The National Paediatric Hospital Development Board was at this stage in “daily and weekly contact” with the builder in a bid to eliminate the arson incidents. At this meeting it was said that three third-party audits were commissioned on the issue.

A spokesman for the board said a Garda investigation was ongoing. It said BAM was “responsible for all operational matters on site ... There have been a number of arson incidents on the site of the new children’s hospital on a campus shared with St James’s Hospital. In all cases, these incidents were immediately reported to An Garda Síochána by BAM.” The company said it was not in a position to comment as this is an ongoing Garda investigation.

There has been controversy over the hospital project for years amid spiralling costs as well as delays that mean it will not now open until the second half of 2024 at the earliest.

There is concern that the construction cost will be much higher than the most recent official estimate of €1.433 billion when delays – some caused by the pandemic – and other issues such as inflation of construction material costs and Brexit are factored in.

Jennifer Bray

Jennifer Bray

Jennifer Bray is a Political Correspondent with The Irish Times