Tuesday 15 October 2019

BAM offers to ‘opt out’ of the National Children’s Hospital contract

The construction firm said it would cooperate with the board if they wanted to procure work in another way.

BAM Ireland chief executive said the firm would cooperate if the Government decides to opt out of the contract for the building of the the new National Children’s Hospital (Niall Carson/PA Wire)
BAM Ireland chief executive said the firm would cooperate if the Government decides to opt out of the contract for the building of the the new National Children’s Hospital (Niall Carson/PA Wire)

By Michelle Devane, Press Association  

The firm behind the construction of the new National Children’s Hospital has said it would “opt out” of the contract if the board wanted to retender the controversial project.

BAM Ireland chief executive Theo Cullinane said: “BAM wishes to advise the hospital board that if it would prefer to opt out of this contract and procure the work in some other way, then BAM will cooperate with them to facilitate this option.”

In a statement, the Kildare-firm also said “it did not benefit inappropriately from the tender process” and that much of the commentary was based on “incomplete and inaccurate information”.

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Costs of the new hospital have risen to more than 1.7 billion euro (Niall Carson/PA Wire)

The Government has come under increasing pressure over spiralling costs of the new hospital, on the campus of St James’s Hospital in Dublin

It has soared from an original estimate of 650 million euro to more than 1.7 billion euro.

The controversial overrun has heaped pressure on Health Minister Simon Harris.

An independent inquiry by PWC, which was set up to assess the errors, is expected to be completed by the end of next month.

BAM said it would “fully engage” with the independent inquiry by PWC to “ensure all relevant facts are disclosed”.

The company said it had written to the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar following comments he made in the Dail on Tuesday requesting him “to clarify that he was not referring to BAM in the Dail and that BAM has made and continues to make a significant contribution to Ireland, including in the context of the New Children’s Hospital, where BAM is in full compliance with all its obligations”.

Mr Cullinane added: “BAM will continue its commitment to the New Children’s Hospital and the confidence of all parties involved is a vital requirement for the company.”

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TD Mick Wallace believes that retendering the construction contract for the hospital would save half a billion euro (Niall Carson/PA Wire)

A spokesman for the Government said Mr Varadkar “did not reference any specific company in the Dail”.

“The Government is not satisfied with several aspects of how the new National Children’s Hospital project has been delivered,” he said.

“There is understandable public concern about the matter.

“For this reason, PWC has been commissioned to carry out an independent examination.

“He hopes and trusts that all parties and contractors will co-operate fully with it.”

In a statement issued on Friday evening the board handling the development of the hospital said: “The National Paediatric Hospital Development Board is committed to delivering the new children’s hospital.”

It added: “We have nothing further to add at this time.”

Following the statement Independent TD Mattie McGrath called on the Taoiseach and the Health Minister to put an immediate halt to works being carried out on the St James’s site and for due consideration to be given to the relocation of the new hospital.

Mr McGrath said: “The statement by BAM today completely undermines the narrative that has been put out there by the Taoiseach, the Minister for Health and indeed the Minister for Public Expenditure, Pascal Donohoe, with respect to the alleged inability to reconsider a possible relocation of the NCH.”

His comments came after Independent TD Mick Wallace claimed in the Dail on Thursday that retendering the construction contract for the hospital would save half a billion euro.

Mr Wallace said that cancelling the current deal would make financial sense in the long term and that it was not too late to do so before costs spiralled further.

But the Government rejected the claim.

Tanaiste Simon Coveney said the advice being given to Government was that retendering would not result in a saving.

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