New children’s hospital board chairman resigns

THE head of the controversial National Paediatric Hospital Development Board, Philip Lynch, has resigned his position.

Mr Lynch refused last night to explain why he resigned from the board that is overseeing the development of the children’s hospital at the Mater Hospital site in Dublin.

There is growing speculation that plans to build the hospital may be unravelling, with a growing number of medical practitioners who specialise in paediatrics coming out against the development.

Health Minister Mary Harney in a statement confirmed Mr Lynch’s resignation from a position he has held since May 2007.

Mr Lynch, who is chief executive of investment company One51, was ex-chief executive of the IAWS, the international food and agribusiness group.

“I want to genuinely thank Philip for his time and dedication in steering this project to where it is today,” Ms Harney said last night.

The minister has appointed businessman John Gallagher as the new chairman of the board that is due to open the new €600m hospital in 2014.

Ms Harney said she looked forward to the board, under its chairman and the Health Service Executive, moving forward to deliver a world class children’s hospital on the Mater campus.

Critics have claimed the choice of the Mater site was politically motivated because it was in the constituency of former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern.

Dr Fin Breathnach, retired consultant paediatric oncologist, and chief executive of Barretstown, which helps children deal with serious illness, was one of 23 specialists who have united against the children’s hospital site. Dr Breathnach and his colleagues, who have called for a review of the project, said a peripherally located green-field option was preferable, with over 60% of children and their parents attending the hospital coming from outside the Dublin area.

Dr Roisín Healy, a retired consultant in paediatrician emergency medicine, said a shroud of secrecy had surrounded the development from the start.

“I believe we need to know why Mr Lynch resigned his position,” she said last night.

Last July former heart surgeon, Maurice Neligan, said he had reconsidered his backing for the development after a visit to the proposed site of the 16-storey hospital

“There is no green space, nothing to look at. It doesn’t seem now to me to be the best thing for children,” he said.

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