M50 site being considered for children’s hospital

The Mater Hospital’s role as the preferred location for a new national children’s hospital is coming under pressure after it emerged a greenfield site near the M50 on Dublin’s northside is being seriously considered.

Reports indicated yesterday that plans for the site near Belcamp and Clare Hall — which would also incorporate the relocation of Beaumont Hospital — received a favourable response from Health Minister James Reilly.

The project also contains proposals for a wider facility which would see the new children’s hospital being incorporated into a €1.2bn medical hub, containing pharmaceutical industries and educational institutions.

The lands earmarked for the new campus covers a 400-acre site.

The lands are currently owned by Nama, the IDA, and private interests.

Sources in Irish Rail also confirmed they had received a tentative approach from people linked to Dr Reilly about the possibility of connecting the site with a proposed spur of the Dart railway line to Dublin Airport.

A spokesperson for Dr Reilly could not be contacted for comment yesterday. However, it is understood the minister has discussed the issue with Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Fine Gael ministers Michael Noonan and Richard Bruton.

Over 15 possible locations involving existing hospital facilities and greenfield sites are being examined by an expert group appointed by Dr Reilly, following the refusal of planning permission for the Mater site by An Bord Pleanála in February.

The promoters of the Mater site last week issued details of revised plans for the project which it claimed had addressed the difficulties raised with the original design by the planning authority.

The Mater, in conjunction with Temple St Children’s Hospital and the Rotunda maternity hospital, maintains the new hospital can be built more quickly and cheaper there than at any other location.

Meanwhile, Joan Burton, the social protection minister, said yesterday there had always been a strong body of opinion across all political parties that a site somewhere on the Dublin periphery had a lot of advantages as a location for the new hospital.

She said there was also a strong case being made for lands in Abbotstown — which is in her own constituency — and which shares a common campus with the James Connolly Memorial Hospital in Blanchardstown.

“There’s quite a wide number of possibilities being canvassed and the key thing is that the site that’s chosen is the best for the children of Ireland and offers the best medical outcomes for them,” said Ms Burton.

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