Tuesday 17 September 2019

Varadkar hits out at 'totally fake' attacks on overspend

FF's Stephen Donnelly: Said Varadkar 'worthy of Trump'. Photo: Gareth Chaney/Collins
FF's Stephen Donnelly: Said Varadkar 'worthy of Trump'. Photo: Gareth Chaney/Collins
Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has accused the Opposition of "political scaremongering" over the escalating cost of the National Children's Hospital (NCH).

He hit out at rival politicians' claims that other projects in the health service are threatened or delayed by the project, with costs having spiralled to around €1.7bn.

Mr Varadkar was speaking in the National Rehabilitation Hospital at the launch of the HSE's €2.1bn capital spending plan for the next three years.

Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin both criticised the plan, claiming it lacked detail.

Mr Varadkar said the capital plan is more important this year and has seen the over-Budget costs of the NCH used for "political scaremongering".

He said there have been claims that existing projects are being scrapped or delayed and it is affecting staffing.

He claimed such arguments are "totally fake" and "made up". Mr Varadkar said the €230m that is being spent on the NCH this year is 1.3pc of the health budget and 0.4pc of overall Government spending.

He said it is "certainly not a good thing" that the NCH is over-budget, but added that there is still "plenty of money for projects all around the country".

Mr Varadkar later said: "No projects are cancelled. Projects do get delayed from time to time, but not because of the children's hospital.

"They get delayed for lots of different reasons."

Fianna Fáil's health spokesman Stephen Donnelly last night said Mr Varadkar's attack on critics was "worthy of Donald Trump".

He claimed the Government has made "an absolute disaster" of spending in health and "its response to that is to attack the Opposition for holding them to account for that".

He claimed the report lacked detail saying there is "no information on how the list of projects compares to previous promises".

He said it is "impossible to identify what's on track, what's delayed and the impact of overspending".

Sinn Féin's health spokeswoman Louise O'Reilly argued that there was "a worrying lack of detail" in the capital plan.

Irish Independent

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