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National Children’s Hospital procurement scandal was not a process failure but a result of gross incompetence – Jonathan O’Brien TD

7 February, 2019 - by Jonathan O'Brien TD

Sinn Féin deputy spokesperson for Public Expenditure & Reform Jonathan O’Brien TD has rejected Minister Donohoe’s promise of new procurement legislation to prevent capital overruns as a cynical attempt to deflect attention from his Government’s ineptitude in managing taxpayers’ money and undermine the issue of individual responsibility.

Speaking this morning, the Cork North-Central TD said:

“Paschal Donohoe’s plan for new legislation or proposals to prevent future overruns in capital projects is a predictably cynical move to deflect from Government failure.

“The procurement fiasco that has resulted in the costs of the National Children’s Hospital to escalate by over €450 million is not primarily due to any failure or deficiency in procurement legislation or guidelines. The current legislation provides all a framework to ensure taxpayers’ money is not wasted.

“This scandal has resulted only from this government’s mismanagement of one of the biggest capital health projects the taxpayer has paid for.

"All of the warning signs were there of a dangerous escalation in costs; warnings were sounded to the Development Board and Steering Group of the hospital, with top officials from both Departments of Health and Public Expenditure & Reform present.

“Despite this, both Ministers failed to act.

“The Department of Public Expenditure and Reform is obliged to review and track major capital projects continually, while the Department of Health is required to update DPER on the progress of capital projects and spending plans.

"This did not happen. The fault for that does not rest with legislation, but with the Ministers and the Government.

“Any effort to deflect from this failure of governance must be called out for what it is, spin.

“To claim it was the result of gaps or failures in legislation or process is to immediately undermine the upcoming review into the cost overrun and to dilute the fundamental issue of individual responsibility.

“We would ask that opposition be allowed to bring forward proposals for any review of current procurement policy and practice, if this is to be a meaningful initiative and not just government noise and spin.

“This was not a systems failure. It was a failure of Government to do its job.”

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