Children’s hospital hearing may be live-streamed

An Bord Pleanála oral review of proposed St James’s Hospital development began today

An Bord Pleanála is to consider calls from objectors to the proposed National Children's Hospital at St James's Hospital in Dublin for the live-streaming of an oral hearing on the project.

The senior planning inspector chairing the preliminary oral review of the €650 million development told the hearing that he would decide on the requests with the board.

The board has a policy of not broadcasting hearings online and this had never happened before, the inspector, Tom Rabbitte, said.

A number of parties who have made submissions on the project have called for live-streaming of the hearing, which is expected to last at least three weeks.


A written petition on live-streaming was also handed up to Mr Rabbitte.

Local Sinn Féin TD Aengus Ó Snodaigh said that live-streaming would facilitate local people who could not be present for the entire proceedings.

The substantive hearing, which starts on November 30th, will hear presentations from dozens of groups and individuals who are for and against the project.

Dublin City Council

A number of those present on the first day of the oral hearing objected after Dublin City Council indicated it might not be present for all of the hearing.

Deputy city planner Mary Conway said the council would not be making a formal presentation and would try to attend as much of the hearing as possible.

“We will endeavour to attend as much as possible but we have other duties,” she said.

Mr Rabbitte said that where issues arose, he would expect local authorities to attend. He also said that the board could request that local authorities appear.

About 120 observations on the project were received by the board, with the majority expressing opposition to the development.

Concerns raised about the development include the effect on traffic, the environmental impact and the model of care to be provided in the hospital.

The board is due to make a decision by February 15th next year.

Mr Rabbitte said the oral hearing would deal with design matters and traffic impacts during construction and operation of the hospital.

Other headings were the proposed helipad, the broader development of the St James’s Hospital campus, including future developments, and possible alternative sites.

Heritage issues and issues specific to particular groups of local residents would also be dealt with during the hearing.

Mr Rabbitte said there was a commonality of interest in many of the submissions and he expressed the hope that some parties might make joint submissions to save time.

Planning application

The planning application covers the proposed new children's hospital, a research centre and children's accommodation in the St James's campus, as well as two satellite centres at Tallaght hospital and Connolly Hospital in Blanchardstown and a "compound" at Davitt Road in Drimnagh.

Jarlath Fitzsimons SC, for the planning applicants, the National Paediatric Hospital, said its presentation will take four days and 20 expert witnesses would be called.

The Jack & Jill Foundation, which works with sick children and wants the children’s hospital to be built on a greenfield site, said its presentation would last three-four days.

Most other groups said their evidence would be short.

The New Children’s Hospital Alliance, which is opposed to locating the project on the St James’s campus, has also urged the board to engage “non-aligned” medical experts to deal with issues surrounding the model of care to be provided.

The children’s hospital was originally supposed to be built on a site at the Mater hospital in Dublin by 2016 but this plan was abandoned when An Bord Pleanála refused planning permission for the development.

Should the project get the go-ahead at St James’s, it is scheduled to be completed by 2020.

Almost 2,000 construction jobs and 300 jobs in services will be created during the four-year build of the hospital, according to a report published this week.

Paul Cullen

Paul Cullen

Paul Cullen is Health Editor of The Irish Times