Monday 15 July 2019

Government accused of being 'asleep at the wheel' as children's hospitals costs spiral

Dara Calleary (Niall Carson/PA)
Dara Calleary (Niall Carson/PA)
On site: Work is under way at the new national children’s hospital next to St James’s Hospital. Photo: Mark Condren
An artist’s impression of the new children’s hospital. Photo: PA
John Downing

John Downing

The Government must explain why they were “asleep at the wheel” while estimates for the new children’s hospital building project spiralled out of control, Fianna Fáil’s Dara Calleary has told the Dáil.

The massive bill for the new national children's hospital which is due to open its doors in 2022 will be at least €1.7bn.

The Fianna Fáil deputy leader said the experience raised serious questions about how taxpayers’ money was protected in other public projects like the national broadband roll-out.

Mr Calleary said that one year into the Government’s “Ireland 2040” development plan the children’s hospital costs had overrun to €1.7bn raised serious questions about its value.

“This plan was published with great fanfare, a roadshow and spin, spin, spin,” the Mayo TD added.

The cost of the new hospital has already spiralled from €983m to €1.4bn in the space of less than two years - but that will only cover the design, construction and equipping of the hospital.

However, it was revealed that another €300m is needed to cover extras such as the IT system which has also gone €9m over budget.

Replying for the Government, Tánaiste Simon Coveney told the Dáil that the Ireland 2040 plan was an attempt to forward plan for the medium to longer term and could not be dismissed because of expected “difficulties and challenges” in one project.

Mr Coveney said the Government was unhappy with the children’s hospital project now costing €45m more than the estimate given in April 2017 when it got the green light. He said some of the extra costs were due to additional staff, planning costs and other issues.

But the Tánaiste insisted that problems with one project did not mean the entire planning process should be dismissed out of hand.

“There are many other projects that are being achieved on time and under budget,” Mr Coveney said.

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