Monday 26 March 2012

Decisions must be right, not just for right now

The response to the rejection of the planning application for the proposed National Children’s Hospital was more than intriguing.
Anybody casting even half an unjaundiced eye on the whole development could have foreseen that there were serious problems with the application. This was to be a very large national hospital bringing people in from all over Ireland to the very centre of Dublin.

During certain times of the day, the centre of Dublin and indeed most of our larger urban areas resemble large slow-moving parking lots.

Why anybody would think that building a very large-scale hospital, with the introduction of many thousands of additional car journeys, in the middle of this parking lot would do anything other than make the traffic situation even worse?

The reaction by some has been amazing. Tánaiste Eamonn Gilmore is reported to have said he would not rule out changing the law to ensure it could go ahead.

Senator John Crown, an otherwise apparently sensible individual, is reported to have compared Ireland to a banana republic and suggested that the Bord Pleanála decision should be overturned.

Ridiculing engineering, planning and architectural professionals because you do not like the decision they take, on tried and tested planning grounds, is petty.

One can only hope that these folk decrying the decision ran their mouths before they actually thought about the implications of what they were saying.

We should not forget that bending the rules, ignoring the rules or even making new rules to suit certain individuals or corporations is a large part of the reason that the Celtic Tiger bolted these shores.

It’s not for nothing that Dublin was coined the "wild west" in certain overseas financial circles. Now, when a statutory body established to ensure that professional planning and development rules and requirements are implemented and enforced fairly and without favour, the cry goes up to change the rules or ignore the findings. Do we never learn? We undermine these organisations at our peril.

There is an unquestionable need for a National Children’s Hospital. The medical fraternity, by and large, agree with the specific disciplines and expertise and the facilities that would be necessary. It should have been built years ago. If that was the only consideration, it would have been all fine and dandy, but it’s not.

If the stories are true, and given what has gone before, there is no reason to disbelieve them, certain individuals decided that this hospital should be located in the Mater. It would also appear that subsequent reviews of that decision were undertaken with terms of reference that required looking at nothing else other than a predefined decision. It was not the place to start.

Now, there are those who are saying that the planned structure should be reduced in size, scale and scope, despite the fact that only the other day they were saying that everything in the hospital is vital.

Rather than exacerbate a problem, we should now take the opportunity to plan this properly. However, those with predefined views need to be taken out of the equation. Those with vested interests should be ignored.

The medical fraternity has already defined what needs to be in the hospital. Now let other professionals decide the best location for it taking into account the overall common good. Most importantly, let it be done in a very tight time frame so that a much-needed facility is provided at the very earliest opportunity.

Some have suggested that the decision to reject this location is a slap in the face of sick children. It’s an emotive argument and, as we all know, hard cases make for bad law. We should do things because they are right and not just for right now.

Read the article @ The Irish Examiner

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