Location of new hospital - Transparency is the best defence

It is 25 years since the Royal College of Physicians proposed a single tertiary paediatric hospital in Dublin. Brendan Howlin was the minister for health then.

He has had 10 successors but we still don’t have a new national children’s hospital. When that proposal was made the population stood at 3.6m — today it is 4.8m. The prognosis is that the €1bn facility will open in 2021. Let’s try to be optimistic.

If Irish Water was — and still is — the greatest farce in the muddy ground where the State or public service provision meet, the saga of the National Children’s Hospital is a very strong contender for runner-up slot.

The project was shamelessly hijacked by politicians causing delay after delay. It became a turf war between professional interests whose objectives may not have always chimed with the common good.

Those who questioned its city centre location seem vindicated by the traffic deadlock choking our capital.

Against that dispiriting background the assertion from Tánaiste Simon Coveney that the decision around the location of the new hospital for Cork be left to health planners is very welcome.

This would be a spectacular break from precedent, one that might be helped by the contemporaneous publication of the minutes of all meetings discussing the issue.

The usual dodge about “commercial sensitivity” is irrelevant as all funds involved will be public. Whose interests would be served by not doing so? Hardly the public’s.

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