Third level college will not be provided

The massive financial implications of modernising the Victorian hospital buildings presents an insurmountable stumbling block for the agencies involved in negotiations

REPORTS suggesting that specific plans had been agreed for the future of the sprawling St Finan’s Hospital site in Killarney were premature and wide of the mark, it was confirmed this week.

Despite claims that land was to be transferred to Kerry County Council for social housing and that a third level outreach college was likely to be located on the site, senior Kerry County Council officials have insisted that no definite plans have been made and no agreements have been reached.

Councillors in Killarney were briefed on the matter at a behind-closed-doors meeting in the town hall this week and the factual situation was clearly outlined.

A new community nursing unit, which is to replace the two existing community hospitals, is scheduled to be built on the grounds of St Finan’s by 2021. The site earmarked by the Health Service Executive for that project is understood to be immediately to the rear of the former Ross Products building which was once used as a playing grounds by Killarney Celtic FC.

It is believed that the HSE is determined to sell the remainder of the former St Finan’s site – including the sprawling 1852 building – as one lot although it is obliged to give first refusal to other state agencies through the inter-state transfer of property agreement.

The massive financial implications of maintaining, renovating and modernising the Victorian hospital buildings, which haven’t been upgraded or refurbished for years, presents an insurmountable stumbling block for the agencies involved and, as it is a listed property, it is considered a huge liability. It has been stated that the landmark building, vacated entirely since 2012, is in serious danger of becoming derelict.

The St Finan’s Hospital grounds have been closed off the the public

Councillors were told at the briefing that although the Institute of Technology Tralee had initially expressed an interest in discussions with the HSE, it has now opted out and a third level outreach college is not being considered for the site.

It can be confirmed that Kerry County Council has expressed an interest in acquiring a 5.77-acre site for social housing but the land is located at Ballydribeen – on the other side of the bypass road – on the site previously occupied by Killarney Rugby Club. The big difficulty with that potential deal is that vehicular access could present a major problem. understands that there has been some suggestion that Kerry County Council is likely to be interested in the St Columbanus Home and former district hospital sites when the properties are vacated following the development of the new nursing unit but that is still a number of years away.

Meanwhile, Cllr Michael Gleeson has issued a statement to clarify the situation regarding the St Finan’s site plans as, he said, some confusion had arisen after he raised the matter at a meeting of Kerry County Council last month.

He said it can now be confirmed that while the HSE has plans to develop the new community hospital on some of the land, it is insistent that the building and the remainder of the land must be considered as one unit and will not be sold or disposed of as separate lots.
“The Institute of Technology Tralee has clarified that it no longer has any interest in acquiring the building. Therefore, the future of the building and its adjacent land remains undecided,” Cllr Gleeson said.

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