Saturday 20 January 2018

Harney's war of words over hospital plan

Health Minister Mary Harney has said she demanded the resignation of an official who claimed he quit in a row over the location of the new national children's hospital .

Chairman of the children's hospital board Philip Lynch said he stepped down because the €650m project at the Mater Hospital site was at "serious risk" due to a lack of funds.

He cited the substantial funding gap, which leaves the board with €110m to be raised from charitable donations, and also the "planning and design challenges for the Mater site".

Mr Lynch, who was chairman for three years, said it was his own decision to dramatically quit, and recalled a crunch meeting with Ms Harney.

"In my letter of resignation, I stated there were fundamental differences between the minister and myself on the need for open and informed discussion at board level, at all times, on a range of issues relating to the hospital," he said.

"My decision to resign was my own," said Mr Lynch.


Mr Lynch said that the issues he was disputing, if not dealt with, would threaten the successful delivery of the new hospital "wherever it is located".

But the minister has now said that she had asked Mr Lynch to resign.

"In requesting the resignation of Philip Lynch, I made it clear that it is not in the remit of the Development Board to revisit the Government decision taken on the location of the new hospital," she insisted.

Developer Noel Smyth has offered to build a hospital at a site at Newland's Cross for €150m less that the Mater plan.

The New Children's Hospital Alliance, which opposes the Mater site, has said the project must now be paused.

But Ms Harney said the plan, which aims to see the hospital open in 2015, will not be changed.

"The mandate of the board and its chairman is to build the hospital at the Mater," she said.

"It was made quite clear to Mr Lynch that the project to build the new hospital will proceed fully as planned to deliver the best possible complex care for children."


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