Minister says €110m can be raised


MINISTER FOR Health Mary Harney has insisted that €110 million in voluntary contribution towards the new paediatric hospital in Dublin can be raised.

“The philanthropic contribution is highly achievable,” she said.

Ms Harney was replying to Fine Gael spokesman Dr James Reilly who said it bordered on the unbelievable to think that €110 million could be raised through philanthropy in the current economic climate.

“I need not remind the House of what is happening on the bond markets and the difficulty the country would have had to raise funds which, thankfully, it does not have to do at the moment,” he added.

Ms Harney said she rejected such a negative tone, adding that a foundation had been established and had received charitable status from the Revenue Commissioners.

The year before last, Ms Harney said, Toronto hospital had raised $78 million. She had visited the Starship children’s hospital in New Zealand which received huge philanthropic contributions. “It is not unusual, and I, and many others, believe the contribution expected to be raised over a four-year period, that is €110 million, is highly achievable,” the Minister said. “There have already been indications from individuals of their interest in this area.”

Dr Reilly said New Zealand was not Ireland in 2010 or 2011. The Jack and Jill Foundation, one of the most successful charitable organisations in the State, had to resort to seeking additional funding from the HSE because it failed to meet its targets in its philanthropic endeavours, he added.

“We want realism, not fantasy.”

Ms Harney said the hospital was a priority for the Government and the capital spending on it would be protected over the project’s lifetime.

The total estimated cost, including the ambulatory and urgent care centre at Tallaght, was €650 million. This was €100 million less than a previous estimate because of the fall in building prices. Some €400 million was committed by the exchequer and was reflected in the HSE’s capital plan this year; €25 million had already been spent on the planning, design and support of the project since 2007.

Commercial and other sources would yield some €90 million, Ms Harney added. The development board was making good progress in planning and developing the new hospital at the Mater site.