Charities disagree about location for children's hospital
Two leading charities are at loggerheads over where the new children's hospital should be built.
A planning application for the major new facility - to be located at St James's Hospital site - is to be lodged with Dublin City Council next month.
However, two children's charities disagree over where the hospital should be built.
The CEO of the Jack and Jill Foundation, Jonathan Irwin, has said in recent months that the new hospital should be located at Connolly Hospital in Blanchardstown.
"The maternity hospital is going to move there, where there is an adult hospital, and it's only natural that the children's would be there too," he told the Herald.
The CEO of the Children in Hospital charity, Mary O'Connor, also told the Herald that the St James's site was "as good as you'll get".
"It's very hard to say a location is perfect. There is space out at Blanchardstown," she said. "But the hospital doesn't have the same breadth of specialties, which is what you'd want to have in close proximity to a children's hospital."
Ms O'Connor said the Blanchardstown location would be out of the way for many families who needed to attend.
"Over 70pc of the people who are going to use this hospital will be from the city of Dublin and Blanchardstown is quite a bit away. This hospital has to be built and the St James's site is grand," she said.
She stressed that the most important thing was getting the new children's hospital up and running.
"We are so conscious of the need for this new hospital that looking at something that would cause a further delay to its completion is not an option," she said.
"I'm very happy with the way the development is proceeding. We are very much involved in working with the development board for the new hospital to ensure that it will be perfect."
Mr Irwin disputed any claims that a Blanchardstown site would be an inconvenient journey for families with sick children.
"Saying it's too far away is absolute nonsense. Most families live outside the M50," he said.
The Jack and Jill Foundation has been critical of the size, security and poor facilities of the St James's site.
"Road access is appalling. In Cincinnati there are 11 parking spaces to a child's bed, in Melbourne there are seven spaces to a child's bed," Mr Irwin said.
"At St James's it would be 1.4 spaces to a bed. That's an unacceptable difference."
Ms O'Connor said work was being done with Dublin City Council to manage these measures.