Seanad Éireann - Volume 169 - 19 April, 2002

Adjournment Matter. - Grangegorman Lands.

  Mr. Costello: I do not intend to rehearse all the details in regard to this matter on the Adjournment as I have raised it before. What I am seeking is a clear statement on the future of St. Brendan's Hospital grounds, Grangegorman. Most of the land is unused due to the fact that the health board has moved most of the patients out and it has been in this condition for some years. For some considerable time, the intention has been that it should be disposed of for educational purposes. Specifically, the Dublin Institute of Technology sought to have its campus located there and subsequently other bodies, such as Educate Together and Dublin 7 multi-denominational group, sought a premises for its school, which is in temporary accommodation in Henrietta Street.

  An interdepartmental working group was set up which, I understand, included the local authority, Dublin City Council, to determine and make recommendations on the precise future of the land, but its terms of reference strongly recommended that it would be for educational purposes. I understand that group has reported and the report is awaiting a Cabinet decision for up to three months. There is considerable interest in the community and considerable concern on the part of the Dublin Institute of Technology and Educate Together as to when the decision will be taken and what it will be, especially as a general election is looming. Everybody would be [1742] taken out of their misery if they were informed of what will be the exact future use of the lands.

  Minister of State at the Department of Health and Children (Ms Hanafin): On behalf of my colleague, the Minister for Health and Children, Deputy Martin, I thank Senator Costello for raising this issue again.

  An interdepartmental ad hoc working group to examine and report on options for the future development of the Eastern Regional Health Authority lands at Grangegorman in Dublin city was set up in May last year. The group was chaired by the Department of the Taoiseach. Its terms of reference were to examine how the Grangegorman site can best be developed to achieve Government policy priorities in meeting education and social service needs and in tackling construction industry capacity constraints.

  This will be done in a way which takes into account the overall development of Dublin and leverages the strategic location and commercial potential of the site to attract private involvement on a PPP basis, having particular regard to the following: access by the Dublin Institute of Technology at the earliest possible date to facilities needed for apprenticeship training, with site occupation from the academic year 2001-2002; provision, on a staged basis over the longer term, of modern campus facilities needed by Dublin Institute of Technology in the context of Government policy for third level education as a whole; provision in the short term, as part of the package, of non-acute units needed by the Eastern Regional Health Authority on part of the campus, but also on other sites in the region, taking account of the investment in kind by the authority; arrangements to afford the local community access to playing field facilities on the campus; integration of the proposed campus development with Luas and other relevant public transport provision; and an approach to financing that includes leverage of the site's strategic location and commercial potential to lessen the burden on the Exchequer and avoid circular transfer of funds between Votes.

  Membership of the working group included representatives of the Departments of the Taoiseach, Finance, Education and Science, the Environment and Local Government, Public Enterprise and Health and Children and the Dublin Institute of Technology, Dublin Corporation and the ERHA. The group first met on 16 May 2001 and has met on a number of occasions since then. The group facilitated a study which was carried out by a firm of independent consultants to examine the issues involved. The group has now completed its work and I understand that an announcement will be made in the near future.

  The development of this site will have significant implications for the provision of heath and education services and for the future development of Dublin as a city. The Grangegorman site is of strategic importance in the context of [1743] Dublin as a whole. My Department is working with the other Departments and agencies represented on the working group to ensure that its strategic location and potential is unlocked in a manner to best meet the Government's objec[1744] tives in the provision of high quality health and education services and I am confident that this can be done.

  The Seanad adjourned at 12.40 p.m. until 2.30 p.m. on Wednesday, 24 April 2002.