Most Rev. Diarmuid Martin
Archbishop of Dublin and Primate of Ireland
Farmleigh, 2nd December 2011
As Chairman of the Board of Directors of Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital I am delighted to welcome you all to our Foundation Day.
My predecessor Archbishop Edward Byrne had the dream of building Crumlin Hospital back in the 1930’s. His aim was quite modest. Having worked for nearly twenty years as a priest at the beginning of the twentieth century in the Pro-Cathedral, in Dublin’s inner city, he was acutely aware of how extreme poverty affected the health of mothers and children. His hope was that the children of the families who, in the 1930’s, were moving from the inner city to newly built housing estates would have somewhere to access good basic health care.
His dream was not realised for another 15 years and it went way beyond his original intuition. In over fifty years since its foundation, an extraordinary pool of expertise has been developed in Crumlin to the extent that the hospital has come to be regarded as an internationally recognised centre of excellence in many paediatric disciplines. In the last 10 years alone the number of children treated at Our Lady’s is in excess of one million.
But Archbishop Byrne’s original more modest hopes were not all that much off the mark. Children’s health care is not just about hospitals. It is not just about responding to sickness. it is about fostering a real awareness in society of what being healthy is about. That is one of the reasons behind the theme of today’s sessions on obesity in children.
In the years to come as we work towards the opening of a New National Paediatric Hospital, we must continue to remember that we are not just talking about a building or an institution whatever its excellence. The hospital must be fully inserted into and become an integral part of a national strategy for addressing children’s health across the board.
The results of our most recent census show that young people in Ireland will constitute for at least a generation to come a significantly higher proportion of the population compared to other European countries. Investing in those young people constitutes good social policy and good economic sense. Investment in education and children’s health is always a vital factor in ensuring sustainable economic growth and social progress. This is true in good times and remains true in times of economic difficulty. Failure to invest adequately in children’s potential will always be detrimental to them and to society. This is also true in good times and remains true in times of economic difficulty.
The establishment of a Government Department for Children is an important indication of a commitment to invest in children and I am happy that the Minister for Children is with us today.
Before handing over to the Minister I would like to use this occasion to express a special word of thanks to all those who make up the community of Our Lady’s Children Hospital for their dedication. These are difficult times, but the passion for children’s health that has marked Crumlin since its foundation is strong and alive and we all have reason to be grateful for that. ENDS