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Management incompetence of the National Children’s Hospital runs directly to Minister Donohoe’s Department – Jonathan O’Brien TD

5 February, 2019 - by Jonathan O'Brien TD

Sinn Féin’s deputy spokesperson for Public Expenditure & Reform, Jonathan O’Brien TD, has said that serious questions must be asked about the performance and functions of the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, its officials and minister.

Speaking today, the Cork North-Central TD said:

“The explanation of the cost overrun at the National Children’s Hospital given by the Government, Taoiseach and various ministers lacks consistency and credibility.

“The information that has transpired over the last number of weeks raises serious questions over the governance of departments at the heart of government, and the transparency of the budget process and public spending.

“Firstly, at the Public Accounts Committee on Thursday I raised the presence of the Chief Procurement Officer of DPER, Mr. Paul Quinn, on the Development Board of the Children’s Hospital and the Procurement Subcommittee and the Finance Subcommittee, of which he was the Chair.

“Officials confirmed that the Finance Subcommittee became informed of cost escalations before the hospital development board in June 2018. Mr Quinn was a member of both.

“The Secretary General of the Department of Health confirmed that Mr Quinn would have been free to escalate this information directly to his own Minister, Paschal Donohoe.

“Minister Donohoe claims he first became aware of the overruns on 9 November 2018.

“Given that Mr Quinn was selected by the minister to the hospital board and the finance subcommittee to protect the public interest, an explanation must be given as to why that information was not escalated to Minister Donohoe, and if it was, why it was not acted on immediately.

“Secondly, the time lapse of three months between Minister for Health Simon Harris becoming aware of the cost overrun and it being brought to Minister Donohoe raises serious concerns over channels of communication at the heart of government.

“In the past 6 months, he has overseen and overrun of €650 million in current spending at the Department of Health and now a €450 million overspend at the National Children’s Hospital.

“The fact that this hospital overspend was not disclosed during the budget process undermines the transparency of public spending.

“Mismanagement in the Departments of Health and Public Expenditure now threaten the delivery of vital capital projects that our health service desperately needs.

“This fiasco has cut €100 million from other capital projects this year, with important projects throughout the State now threatened.

“Full disclosure of when information was escalated to Minister Donohoe is now required.”

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