If Irish Water was a hospital...Children’s hospital delays

THE long-proposed but unrealised National Children’s Hospital symbolises so many of the unattractive characteristics that cast this society in a less-than-flattering light.

Years, if not decades, of prevarication, empire-building by elements of the medical professions and shameless, self-serving political string-pulling meant that the most basic decision — where to build it — was delayed for far, far too long. That debate has not ended even though a location has been identified, if not agreed. It does seem at least counterintuitive, if not plain stupid, to build such a facility on a confined site in a city centre surrounded by a multimillion-euro ring road designed to keep traffic out of clogged traffic arteries.

The result of this tug o’ war is that yesterday Health Minister Leo Varadkar was unable to say with certainty when the hospital would treat children. He offered a 2020 opening date, but his uncertainty did not inspire confidence. The €650m development will bring the State’s three children’s hospitals together, but last year the Dáil Public Accounts Committee heard that about €35m in State funding spent on the development of the original option has been written off.

Irish Water may have, with the unhelpful help of their political masters, set the high water mark in terms of mismanagement and gross incompetence in our public affairs and the squandering of millions in “consultants” fees, but the children’s hospital debacle runs it a close second.

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