FUNDING is still secure for the national children’s hospital which has reached the formal planning application stage, the chief executive of the development board has said.
But Eilísh Hardiman refused to say why the board’s chairman, Philip Lynch, resigned his position, saying she was not privy to such information.
While Mr Lynch has been refusing to explain why he resigned, it is believed it was over concerns about cost and location of the new €650 million hospital on the campus of the Mater Hospital site in Dublin.
“We have categorically confirmed that the funding is still secure for this project,” said Ms Hardiman at a press briefing.
The board was set up in 2007, with Mr Lynch as chairman, and was charged with designing the new hospital into which the existing three children’s hospitals in Dublin will be merged.
The 112,000sq m of hospital building, will be up to 16 storeys high. It will have an underground car park with up to 1,000 spaces with numerous rooftop gardens and play areas.
Building work is due to start towards the end of next year, subject to planning permission, and will open in 2015, at the earliest.
At a press conference in Dublin yesterday, Ms Hardiman said the project had reached a milestone in reaching the formal planning application stage following a year of design development.
Ms Hardiman said she was confident that €110m, which represented 17% of the total funding would come from philanthropy, even in this in this tough economic environment.
She also said there would never be total agreement in the medical community about the plans for the new hospital but claimed the vast majority of paediatricians supported the project.
She said the Faculty of Paediatrics of the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland had formally endorsed plans for the new hospital.
“That is a real thumbs up to this project,” she said.
Asked if it would be better if Mr Lynch had explained why he resigned, Ms Hardiman said that was a matter for him. She stressed, however, that Mr Lynch fully endorsed the project.
“Mr Lynch would say – ‘Focus on what is important’ and what is important here is that the project is progressing,” she said.
Ms Hardiman said Mr Lynch always urged the board to demonstrate what they were doing and engage with the public and that is what they were doing.
She also insisted that they had been giving factual information about the project for three years.
Chairman of the New Crumlin Hospital Group, Louis Roden, who has two young children with cystic fibrosis, spoke out in favour of the project at the press conference.
Mr Roden, who is from Dublin, said his children who have cystic fibrosis had been attending Crumlin Hospital since 2000 and described facilities there as “desperately inadequate”.
He said the group was set up in 2002 at the request of consultants at Crumlin and was delighted that an opportunity now existed to have a fantastic hospital.
“Get on with it. Let’s get it built,” he urged.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved