Dáil Éireann - Volume 592 - 09 November, 2004
Adjournment Debate. - Health Board Property.
Mr. Kirk Mr. Kirk
Mr. Kirk: I thank the Ceann Comhairle for the opportunity to raise this important matter. We have concluded tonight’s debate on the health service in the north-east region and I am looking forward to contributing on that debate tomorrow night.
The matter I am raising on the Adjournment relates to health board land at St. Bridget’s psychiatric hospital in Ardee. The land at Currabeg was sold to an industrial prospector for a pharmaceutical plant. There was a long protracted negotiation on planning permission, which was eventually granted by An Bord Pleanála, but,  unfortunately, the specific project did not proceed. I understand that the North Eastern Health Board is making arrangements to have the land returned to its ownership, as per the original agreement when the land was sold to the pharmaceutical company.
There is considerable concern in the Ardee and mid-Louth area about what will happen the land when it returns to health board ownership. There is existing planning permission for a pharmaceutical facility on it, which clearly enhances its value and leaves it in a prime position for the location of a pharmaceutical plant if a suitable one were to turn up. Can we have an assurance from the Department that the land will continue to be available for industrial development purposes in the town of Ardee in west Louth? It has not been easy to attract industry to Ardee. The advantage of a ready-made suitable site, not alone for a pharmaceutical facility but for other industries that might come to the area, would benefit the general promotional efforts to attract much needed industry to the town and this part of County Louth.
I also refer to the land to which the Tánaiste referred in her contribution on the Private Members’ debate, the land purchased recently which adjoins the Louth County Hospital in Dundalk. We were told recently that land assets are to be brought back into the ownership of health boards and, in certain circumstances, to be sold on. The land at the Louth County Hospital was bought with the clear intention of expanding facilities at the hospital for the future. County Louth has two of the largest provincial towns in the country, Drogheda and Dundalk, where because of the demographic position, health services are under considerable pressure. We hope that the land purchased at Louth County Hospital will be retained for future expansion of the facilities at the hospital.
I am glad the Minister of State at the Department of Health and Children, Deputy Tim O’Malley, will respond on the Adjournment. I look forward to his reply.
Mr. T. O’Malley Mr. T. O’Malley
Mr. T. O’Malley: I thank Deputy Kirk for raising this matter on the Adjournment. The Department of Health and Children is not aware of speculation concerning the lands in question. I have made inquiries from the North Eastern Health Board about the issues raised.
With regard to the lands at Currabeg, Ardee, I am advised that the North Eastern Health Board intends to re-acquire the lands from a third party at the original purchase price paid to it, in accordance with the terms of the sale of the lands. I understand it had been a condition of the sale that an industrial development would be created on the site by the purchaser. While some planning difficulties which had occurred over the years are now resolved, I am informed that the board currently feels that it is uncertain that the planned development for the site will occur. Because of  the increased value of the site, the North Eastern Health Board has decided to exercise the condition of the sale on the option to buy back the land at Currabeg.
The position on the land at Louth County Hospital is that the Department gave approval to the board in December 2003 to purchase a site adjacent to the hospital. This site was recognised as being of strategic value for the potential future development of health facilities in the area. The site has been included in the development control plan for Louth County Hospital which I understand is at an advanced stage of preparation by the board. I hope this response is satisfactory.
Dáil Éireann 592 Adjournment Debate. Health Board Property.