Tuesday 23 July 2019

Spiralling Children's Hospital costs should be 'warning sign' on broadband, TD claims

An artist’s impression of the new children’s hospital. Photo: PA
An artist’s impression of the new children’s hospital. Photo: PA
The cost of developing the new National Children’s Hospital at the St James’s Hospital in Dublin has escalated.
Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

THE spiralling cost of the National Children’s Hospital (NCH) should be a “warning sign” for the roll-out of the controversial National Broadband Plan (NBP), it has been claimed.

Social Democrats TD Catherine Murphy made the remarks as the Dáil prepares to debate her party’s motion raising concerns over the NBP tendering process.

Her comparison with the Children’s Hospital project comes amid concerns that the cost of the NBP could soar into the billions.

It emerged in recent weeks that costs for the hospital project have risen from €983m to at least €1.7bn.

Ms Murphy compared the bradband roll-out to the NCH.

She said: “If you’re going to learn a lesson, you should learn that lesson before you make a decision.

“You’ve got to say that the experience for example of the National Children’s Hospital and the massive overrun in the Children’s Hospital should at least be a warning sign that ‘trust me’ is not enough."

The Social Democrats’ motion demands that communications minister Richard Bruton provide an “immediate update” on the status of the awarding of the contract.

They are also seeking an assurance that Mr Bruton and his Department have been satisfied as to the competitiveness of a process with only one bidder remaining.

Ms Murphy said the awarding of such contracts is like buying a house.

"You’re an expert at the end of it. You need to be an expert at the beginning."

She added: "If we look for failures in this country in terms of cost overruns or slowness to deliver – they’re not at the tail-end, they’re at the foundation level.

"This is where we need to be interrogating this properly."

The issue will be debated in Leinster House this evening.

A Department of Communications spokesperson responded to the Social Democrats motion last night saying: "Minister Bruton has said that he wants to bring the procurement process to a fair and impartial conclusion as quickly as possible.

"The assessment of the final bid by the Department is continuing and has been since a final tender submission was received from the bidder on 18 September.

"Minister Bruton will return to government shortly with a recommendation."

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