Plan for new children's hospital

 

Sir, – Harry Crosbie’s article on the location of the new children’s hospital (Opinion, April 13th) is yet another exercise in the type of bullish “It’s the Mater, it’s the Mater, it’s the Mater” mantra (Irish Times, February 29th) that has characterised the National Paediatric Hospital Development Board (NPHDB) strategy to influence planning boards, concerned professionals and members of the public and even the Minister for Health himself.

Remember this is the same NPHDB that has squandered €36 million of our money on “planning” but whose application was rejected by An Bord Pleanála on the basis of lack of adherence to significant planning policy for the Dublin area; it is also the same NPHDB that hamfistedly tried to to unduly influence An Bord Pleanála by issuing a call for tenders on December 23rd, 2011, exactly two months prior to a planning decision being made.

While I wholeheartedly agree that the process to build the new children’s hospital has taken far too long, the series of delays and setbacks that have occurred, including the resignations of not one but two respected chairpersons, must force one to conclude that on many levels, the thinking and “planning” in relation to this site were fundamentally flawed and as one former chairperson has stated, choosing the Mater site was “a political decision”.

It seems somewhat disingenuous of chairperson No 3 to suggest that “in our plan all (access issues) will be swept away”. An Bord Pleanála raised significant concerns in relation to traffic, access and parking and despite what Mr Crosbie says, there are also significant worries for parents and their children accessing the site with the shelving of Metro North and the documented reduction in services for this area by Dublin Bus .

I presume that the agreement that has been reached with Loretta Glucksman, chairperson of the Ireland Fund to join forces and reach out to the Irish Diaspora will hold, no matter which site is finally chosen by the Minister in consultation with the Review group.

Equally, I hope that Mr Crosbie’s magnanimous offer to kickstart the fund-raising for the new hospital with “a spectacular concert in the O2” will also still be on the table if another site is preferred. The recent visit by a panel of international experts, that Mr Crosbie refers to, did not examine other sites in terms of suitability, so the statement in the media that “An international expert group unanimously had backed the Mater site as the best for the facility” is erroneous.

Like Mr Crosbie, I too want a Centre of Excellence for our children and our children’s children. We want the correct and not the convenient decision for the children of Ireland and not a decision influenced by those who shout loudest. One hopes that, in the interest of fairness, The Irish Times will invite champions of alternative locations for the Children’s Hospital of Ireland to state their case. – Yours, etc,

Dr MARK LAWLER,

South Circular Road,

Kilmainham, Dublin 8.