Children's hospital chairman got a €56,000 salary 'top-up'
The chairman of the board overseeing the development of the new national children's hospital was given salary top-ups totalling €56,000 over two years.
Tom Costello, a former managing director of John Sisk and Son, was paid an extra €28,140 annually in 2014 and 2015, bringing his salary to €40,100 a year. The exceptional payment was sanctioned by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform.
"During these two key years, the chairman was committing on average a number of days per week in his role," a spokeswoman for the board told the Irish Independent.
"It was in recognition of this exceptional commitment that the Department of Health made the decision to increase payments to the chairman. There was no exceptional payment in 2016," she said.
She insisted they were "key years for the project when National Paediatric Development Board was building its executive team".
"It was also finalising the design scope, tendering for design team services and lodging a planning application."
There has been €36m spent up to the end of 2015 since it was decided to locate the new hospital on the campus of St James's Hospital.
But this figure is expected to show a huge jump when the outgoings for 2016 are revealed.
Not a sod has yet been turned for the new hospital, which the Irish Independent revealed in November will cost nearly €1bn to build - up from the original price of €650m as construction inflation soared.
The contract to build the hospital, as well as the two satellite centres at Connolly Hospital and Tallaght Hospital, has been awarded to BAM Ireland and will go to Cabinet in a fortnight.
It will take four years to build and the first patients should be admitted in 2021.
Another €100m will have to be found first to equip it and install IT.
The satellite centre in Connolly Hospital will be finished in 2018 and the centre in Tallaght a year later.
Some €40m was spent on the project when it was previously earmarked for the Mater Hospital site before being rejected by planners.
It means that around €100m has been ploughed into the proposed hospital so far during its ill-fated history.
Fianna Fáil spokesperson on health, Billy Kelleher said that questions needed to be asked of the Department of Health, and the HSE, about how the State was facing an additional €300m to construct the hospital.
"Decision-making at the highest levels of the department and HSE seems to be everyone else's responsibility," he said.
"Ministers and officials must take responsibility, take a decision and execute that decision.
"The failure to give leadership, and execute this badly needed development has led to additional time delays, leading to rising construction and related costs.
"The minimum cost of the new hospital will now reach more than €1.2bn. That's the vast majority of the HSE's capital budget swallowed up. What about the acute hospital beds that are needed around the country?"