Tallaght and Blanchardstown considered as maternity hospital sites

Government examining all options in event of no deal with St Vincent’s Hospital – sources

 A possible move to Tallaght was broached by Minister for Higher Education Simon Harris during a private conversation  last Saturday.   Photograph: Nick Bradshaw for The Irish Times

A possible move to Tallaght was broached by Minister for Higher Education Simon Harris during a private conversation last Saturday. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw for The Irish Times

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The Government is considering alternative sites for the new national maternity hospital, it has emerged.

Three senior sources confirmed that other potential sites must be examined as a “plan B” in the event that agreement cannot be reached with St Vincent’s Hospital on the planned relocation of the hospital from Holles Street.

Both Tallaght and the Connolly Hospital in Blanchardstown were mentioned, but there could be issues with these sites too. This is because the Rotunda Hospital is supposed to move to Blanchardstown and a move to either site could see the project starting from scratch.

Government sources have acknowledged that a deal may not be agreed with St Vincent’s Hospital and all options must be examined for the new hospital which is set to cost around €800 million.

Former master of the National Maternity Hospital Peter Boylan also said a possible move to Tallaght was broached by Minister for Higher Education Simon Harris during a private conversation last Saturday.

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Canvassing

A spokeswoman for Mr Harris said the Minister briefly met Dr Boylan while canvassing in Dublin on Saturday.

“They had a private discussion and the development of the national maternity hospital was discussed. Minister Harris reiterated his view and the Government’s view that the State should own the land and discussed other land the State owned in the city. As it was a private conversation, Minister Harris has no further comment to make.”

On Tuesday the St Vincent’s Hospital Group (SVHG) publicly said it would be retaining ownership of the land that the hospital will be built on, dealing a blow to Government plans to purchase it.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin on Wednesday did not rule out issuing a compulsory purchase order for the site. Mr Martin warned, however, that doing this could “undermine the prospect of ever getting the hospital built. We do not rule anything out here but that has to be weighed up.

‘Red lines’

“I am very much of the view that if the State is building something, the State should own it,” he added. While criticising the SVHG for putting up “red lines” on its refusal to transfer the land from its control, the Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly, also said it would be possible to have full independence without ownership of the site.

“In operational terms it doesn’t matter who owns the land,” he said. Government sources have said, however, that they have serious concerns about protecting the State’s investment under the proposed 99-year lease.

Mr Donnelly has also said there will be no religious influence or ethos in the hospital, although campaigners continue to raise issues.