New children’s hospital "would be open if they picked Tallaght - at half the price"

By Mary Dennehy

AS THE new children’s hospital at James’ Hospital hits headlines over its ballooning budget, we take a look back at Tallaght’s bid for the new National Children’s Hospital in 2012. No doubt there’s many local health campaigners this week wondering, what if…?

BACK in 2012 when controversy and failure surrounded the original site for Ireland’s new National Children’s Hospital at the Mater, hospital campaigners believed that the “solution” to the dilemma lay in Tallaght.

Childrens Hospita

Artist impression of the proposed National Children's Hospital at Tallaght 

Fast forward eight years, and the case for the National Children’s Hospital to be built at Tallaght is being remembered, as the cost of the new hospital at St James’ escalates.

Originally the new children’s hospital at St James’s had an estimated cost of €650m.

In 2017, the Government approved a construction budget of €983m, a figure which has now spiralled to over €1.4bn.

Back in April 2012, Tallaght University Hospital and South Dublin County Council submitted a joint bid for the new National Children’s Hospital to be built at Tallaght.

The bid was submitted after An Bord Pleanala refused planning permission earlier that year for the children’s hospital to be built at the Mater site - as the plans would ‘constitute over development’.

The submission for Tallaght was branded a “serious, cost effective” proposal, one which could be built in the shortest timeframe.

It was proposed that the new children’s hospital be built on a 6.4 hectare site, which included 4 hectares of land to the southern end of the existing hospital campus and 2.4 hectares of council-owned land adjacent to the hospital, known locally as Maelruain’s Field.

According to the submission, no existing buildings on the site meant that construction work would be ‘unimpeded’.

At the time, it had been recommended that the Coombe maternity hospital move to Tallaght, which was cited in the submission as a key strength, offering a tri-location opportunity (adult, paediatrics and maternity).

The national access routes to Tallaght and public transport options for those living in the city were also cited among the reasons why this green field site, and its surrounding retail and accommodation possibilities, could support the significant infrastructural demands of a children’s hospital.

The design also proposed to utilise the site’s scenic surroundings, with the development of summer and winter gardens that looked out onto the Dublin Mountains.

Speaking to The Echo in 2012, then Labour Party TD Eamonn Maloney said: “This is a most serious and extremely cost effective submission and has many advantages over other sites proposed.

“It's also the proposal which would have the shortest timeframe.

“The site backs out onto an industrial estate which means all construction traffic can be kept off roads and out of communities.

“It won't interfere with the Luas, bus routes or traffic flow and as a consequence will be a speedier process - saving time and money.”

However in October of that year, reports circulated that Tallaght’s proposal had not made the shortlist of locations – with only four of the 41 locations proposed up for discussion. 

Speaking at the time, Triona Murphy, the chair of the Tallaght Hospital Action Group, said: “The best solutions are sometimes the most obvious ones.

“The solution to this dilemma is in Tallaght.”

Then Health Minister James Reilly established the Dolphin Group to review the issue and, by the close of 2012, St James’s Hospital was announced as the new site – despite concerns that the location was too small, and not easily accessible.

"Why are so many surprised?"

In a letter to The Echo last week, Richie O’ Reilly, a long time health campaigner in Tallaght and vice chair of the Tallaght Hospital Action Group, asked: “Why are so many surprised and upset regards the cost of the new children’s hospital.

“If they had listened, the new hospital would be open if they picked Tallaght – at half the price.”

Speaking on RTE's Sean O'Rourke earlier this month, Minister for Health Simon Harrris said that the cost of not proceeding with the hospital at St James' would "not be worth it" - adding that the James' site "is the right site". 

This week Minister Harris apologised to the Dail for not providing additional detail on the cost of the National Children's Hospital when asked last year. 

A number of projects nationwide are now expected to be hit in order to pay for the extra costs associated with the National Children's Hospital. 

Prev Brave Francis walks 500 miles and sleeps rough for 40 days
Next €1.6 million skatepark delayed for over a year
  • Return of the flying ants!
  • Irish football supporters came out in force to remember Jack Charlton
  • Crowds gather to pay respect to former chairperson Brendan Moran
  • HSE launch Covid-19 Tracker App
  • New South Dublin County Mayor - Councillor Ed O'Brien

We use cookies to improve your experience on our site, personalise content, provide social media features, analyse our traffic, show you relevant advertising and to target and report on ads. By using the site, you consent to the use of cookies that may process personal data for these purposes.