Monday 24 June 2019

Simon Harris to apologise over information about children’s hospital cost

The opposition has called for the health minister to resign after his department’s memos from August 2018 showed a 391 million euro overrun.

Simon Harris is expected to apologise to the Dail this week over information he provided on the cost of the new National Children’s Hospital (Niall Carson/PA)
Simon Harris is expected to apologise to the Dail this week over information he provided on the cost of the new National Children’s Hospital (Niall Carson/PA)

By Michael McHugh, Press Association

Simon Harris is expected to apologise to the Dail this week over information he provided on the cost of the new National Children’s Hospital.

The opposition has called for the health minister to resign after his department’s memos from August 2018 showed a 391 million euro overrun.

Mr Harris did not tell Cabinet colleagues about the overspend until November.

The minister has been criticised by Fianna Fail after an answer he gave to a parliamentary question failed to show that costs were escalating.

Mr Harris’s spokeswoman told RTE’s This Week programme: “While the minister couldn’t provide figures during commercially sensitive negotiations and because the figures were not known, he has said he wishes he had inserted some initial information – specifically reference the fact that there was a process under way to finalise pricing for Phase B (of the Children’s Hospital).”

She added that “whilst the parliamentary question was factually correct, Minister Harris will be happy to apologise for not providing such context”.

The approximate bill for the new hospital – which will be located on the campus of St James’s Hospital in Dublin – has risen from an original estimate of 650 million euro to more than 1.7 billion euro.

Sinn Fein has threatened to table a motion of no confidence in the minister over the spiralling bill.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has expressed total confidence in his colleague.

On Sunday, around a dozen anti-austerity protesters held banners outside Mr Harris’s home.

Gardai were called and the demonstration ended within an hour.

Political rivals including Micheal Martin tweeted their support for the minister.

Press Association

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