herald

Monday 16 September 2019

Complaints of noise, dust and rats near hospital building site

Health Minister Simon Harris
Health Minister Simon Harris

Residents living near the National Children's Hospital (NCH) construction site have complained of noise, dust, trucks blocking footpaths and a rat infestation.

The complaints were discussed by a sub-committee of the National Paediatric Hospital Development Board (NPHDB), which is overseeing the construction project, according to the minutes of a meeting on October 31 last year.

The NCH has been mired in controversy after it emerged that construction costs have spiralled by €450m to €1.4bn.

Trucks

It has also been subject to complaints by residents living near the building site at St James's Hospital.

The minutes of the meeting show that the majority of complaints to the resident helpline are from O'Reilly Avenue and relate to noise and dust.

There have also been complaints that construction trucks pulling up on the kerb at the Mount Browne entrance to unload have been blocking the footpath. The minutes say this has been "causing a health and safety issue for pedestrians".

There were further complaints about trucks leaving the site uncovered.

The record of the meeting notes that BAM, the main contractor for the project, is "following up on these issues". BAM did not comment last night.

Another complaint related to a collapsed drain behind O'Reilly Avenue and "rats coming up from it". The minutes state: "NPHDB do not believe this issue is caused by works on site due to the distance of the houses from the site."

A spokesman for the NPHDB said the Residents' Project Monitoring Committee was formed in 2016 to facilitate communication and address concerns.

They said issues can be raised and resolved at monthly meetings and also pointed to a 24/7 helpline number for residents operated by BAM.

Separately, Health Minister Simon Harris will today face a Dail vote of no confidence tabled by Sinn Fein in the wake of the revelations about the escalating costs of the NCH.

He is expected to survive the vote as Fianna Fail will abstain under the terms of its Confidence and Supply agreement with the Fine Gael-led minority Government.

Senior Fianna Fail TD Michael McGrath argued it would be "national sabotage" if his party supported the no confidence motion amid the threat of Brexit.

He said such a move would cause a general election in March at a "critical time" when "we have to hold our nerve".

The Labour Party will be supporting the no confidence motion in Mr Harris.

In the Dail, Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald listed the NCH as well as other issues facing the health sector, including the trolley crisis and waiting lists, in arguing that Mr Harris should go.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar argued that Sinn Fein was using the NCH controversy for political gain.

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