Saturday 20 July 2019

Full inquiry needed to find out why children’s hospital building costs have tripled to €1.7bn – Dáil told

An artist’s impression of the new children’s hospital. Photo: PA
An artist’s impression of the new children’s hospital. Photo: PA
John Downing

John Downing

RUNAWAY building costs for the children’s hospital project – currently running at €1.7bn – must be probed by a parliamentary inquiry with powers to compel witnesses to give evidence, the Dáil has been told.

But the Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, has defended the cost over-runs and said the hospital will serve Irish children for the coming century.

Fianna Fáil leader, Micheál Martin, said the project was estimated at €650m in 2016.  But last September it was put at over €1bn before rising to over €1.7bn at the end of the year.

Mr Martin said this amounted to almost a tripling of costs in little over two years.  He also noted that no extra beds, beyond the planned 473 beds, will be provided while a similar project in Sweden costing over €2bn had provided 1,340 beds.

“Not an additional bed will be provided despite that extraordinary cost increase,” Mr Martin said.

The Fianna Fáil leader said the issue should be examined by a public inquiry where witnesses would be obliged to appear and explain the details.  He believed a Dáil committee would be the best way of doing this.

The Taoiseach said the costs were being examined by the accountancy firm, PWC, on behalf of the Health Department and a report would be provided in a few months’ time.

Mr Varadkar said no single item drove up costs but some of the factors included provision of two satellite services in Connolly and Tallaght services, VAT, increased construction costs and other factors, including making the hospital fully digital for the modern age.

“This project will be an enormous asset – one that will serve our children not only for decades but for the next century,” Mr Varadkar said.

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