Galway, Cork, west Dublin hospitals to come under capital plan

National Development Plan will not include extension to Western Rail Corridor

Independent Alliance TD Sean Canney: has raised his concerns with the Minister for Transport, Shane Ross, on the exclusion of the Western Rail Corridor from the investment plan.  Photograph: Alan Betson

Independent Alliance TD Sean Canney: has raised his concerns with the Minister for Transport, Shane Ross, on the exclusion of the Western Rail Corridor from the investment plan. Photograph: Alan Betson

 

The Government will commit to establishing three elective-only hospitals in Galway, Cork and Dublin West as part of their national capital plan.

Discussions are continuing with Ministers on the contents of the investment plan and the National Planning Framework (NPF), but it is expected both will be published next week.

A special Cabinet meeting, it is understood, will be held next Friday in Co Sligo to discuss the plans, and it is expected both will be launched afterwards.

The Irish Times has confirmed the plan, which is to be called the National Development Plan, will not include an extension to the Western Rail Corridor, which features in the Programme for Government.

Independent Alliance TD Sean Canney, who insisted on its inclusion in the deal between Fine Gael and Independents, declined to comment on its exclusion from the investment plan when contacted on Thursday.

Mr Canney said he did not want to make any statement ahead of the plan’s publication but it is understood he has raised his concerns with the Minister for Transport, Shane Ross.

Government sources indicated there had been a push-back in response to confirmation the extension to the Western Rail Corridor would not be included in the investment plan but suggested a compromise may be reached.

“The Programme for Government committed to an independent review. So that will probably be fast-tracked, but whether that will be enough, I do not know.”

Independent Alliance sources insisted they would unite around Mr Canney in his pursuit of the project.

Reservations

Fine Gael TD Joe Carey also expressed reservations about the position, stressing the Western Rail Corridor was an essential part of infrastructure for the west of Ireland.

Mr Carey said the line needed support and an injection of capital investment, as it was crucial for the area.

Minister of State at the Department of Communications Sean Kyne is also understood to have concerns about it but was unavailable for comment on Thursday.

The plan will commit to an expansion of Dart services to Drogheda and significant investment in roads, Garda ICT, social housing and second level schools.

South Infirmary and Mercy Hospitals in Cork will be merged into a new acute hospital in the county.

Three elective-only hospital facilities will be built, which will allow for treatment of patients for non-urgent procedures and planned operations. It is understood the three will be based at Merlin Park in Galway and on the grounds of either South Infirmary or Mercy Hospital in Cork. A purpose-built elective hospital will also be based in the west of Dublin, but its exact location is not yet known. It is understood proximity to the M50 will form part of the consideration.

Concerns

Meanwhile, opposition TDs opposing the National Planning Framework (NPF) are seeking a meeting with Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy to outline their concerns about the plan.

The NPF provides the blueprint for the development of our national infrastructure over the next 25 years.

Fianna Fáil’s Eamon O’Cuív, Labour TD Alan Kelly, Independent TD Michael Fitzmaurice and Sinn Féin TD Martin Kenny are claiming the NPF focuses on Dublin and neglects rural Ireland.

Mr Kelly said the current plans are “lacking in courage and imagination” and is seeking a meeting with Mr Murphy.

Mr O’Cuív added: “The devil is going to be in the detail and we are asking Minister Murphy to arrange an urgent meeting with his officials for us so we can drive it home to them that we demand more for Ireland and are not going away until we get it.”