HSE to sell former Cork hospital on open market

The HSE is planning to dispose of a huge, fire-damaged former hospital on the open market, despite calls from a local authority for the site to be used for housing, writes Eoin English.

It comes amid mounting concerns over the future of the former St Kevin’s unit, in Shanakiel, on the northside of Cork city, seven months on from a devastating fire.

City councillors questioned city officials, last week, about the status of the HSE-owned building and site, and whether progress was being made, in relation to its use as a possible location for housing.

The city’s head of planning, Pat Ledwidge, said officials have made it known to the Government that they would like the site to be considered for housing, and that engagement with the Government on that issue is ongoing.

But in response to a series of questions from the Irish Examiner, the HSE said it previously offered the site to government departments and got no response, and, as a result, is now planning to dispose of the site on the open market.

The former mental hospital, which was part of the former Our Lady’s psychiatric complex, in Shanakiel, was gutted last July, in a fire that is believed to have been started deliberately.

It took almost eight hours for the blaze to be brought under control.

Two-thirds of the imposing, five-storey, red-brick Victorian building were destroyed. The building has been boarded-up since.

Lord Mayor Cllr Tony Fitzgerald led calls, soon afterwards, for the development of a masterplan for the site, which should prime it for housing.

Last week, Mr Ledwidge confirmed that officials are still pressing the case, with the Government, for the site to be used for housing.

The HSE said, in a statement, that because it doesn’t require the continued use of the site as a healthcare campus, the site has been deemed surplus to HSE requirements.

“As a result, the site was offered previously to other government departments, under the protocol for the intra-state transfer of state property assets and the protocol for the intra-state sharing of state property assets, as advised by Department of Public Expenditure and Reform,” a spokesperson said.

“The HSE has not received confirmation, from other government departments, of their interest in the property, and so the HSE intend to dispose of the property on the open market.”

The HSE was criticised, some years ago, when it emerged that €1.5m was spent on security for the former mental-health facility, from its closure, in 2002, to 2007. The cost of providing security at the site and associated lands, since 2007, fell to around €626,000, it emerged last year.

The HSE confirmed, this week, that it spent an additional €63,902.72, ex-VAT, on further security, following the fire.

“The extra-over cost covers additional security provision, between July 4 and August 18, 2017,” it said.

It was not clear, last night, when or how the site will be disposed of on the open market.

- Irish Examiner



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