Monday 24 June 2019

Chair of Children's Hospital development board resigns as cost of project spirals

Big project: The site for National Childrens Hospital in Dublin
Big project: The site for National Childrens Hospital in Dublin Newsdesk Newsdesk

The chair of the National Paediatric Hospital Development Board, Tom Costello, has announced he is to step down from his position.

In a statement issued this morning, he said:

"I have acted with professionalism and integrity in all my dealings with the project stakeholders including the Minister for Health and his Department.

"Every decision made by the Board has been guided by what was deemed best for the Project.  

"I am concerned about the reputational damage that the ongoing commentary about the increased cost of the hospital is having on this critically important project and so I have  decided to step down from my role to help ensure that focus is restored on delivering the project."

The Children's Hospital has been at the centre of controversy since it emerged that construction costs soared from €983m to more than €1.4bn. Another €300m is due to be spent fitting out the hospital with ICT equipment. The total cost is expected to be more than €1.7bn.

Concerns were raised at a meeting of the Dáil's spending watchdog, the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) that costs could top €2bn.

The Minister for Health Simon Harris yesterday insisted there will be "accountability" and suggested there will be "personnel changes" in the governance structure of the project.

Mr Costello paid tribute to the board in his statement, saying: "I would like to pay tribute to the members of the Board.

"They have been asked to make extremely difficult decisions and have done so at all times in order to ensure that the hospital is built, and the delivery of paediatric care in Ireland can be transformed.

"I would like to wish the executive team, the Board and all those involved the very best for the future, as they move into the next phase of work."

He said it was an 'honour and privilege' to have chaired the board since 2013.

Mr Costello is a former managing director of construction company Sisk at a time when it was involved in major building projects like Croke Park and the Dundrum Town Centre.

A spokesperson for the Minister said:

"The Minister for Health Simon Harris has accepted the resignation of Tom Costello as Chairperson of the National Paediatric Hospital Development Board.

"The Minister for Health thanked Mr Costello for his service and his exceptional commitment to the project for the past six years, noting that his decision to step down is motivated by this same overriding commitment.

"Throughout his tenure, Mr Costello worked tirelessly to ensure a state-of-the art facility is built for our children and advanced the project significantly. Minister Harris wants to thank him for that work."

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