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C&AG contradicts Minister Donohoe on role of Chief Procurement Officer in National Children’s Hospital Scandal – O’Brien

14 February, 2019 - by Jonathan O'Brien TD

Sinn Féin deputy spokesperson for Public Expenditure Jonathan O’Brien TD has criticised Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe for obfuscating over the responsibility of a senior civil servant within his department in the National Children’s Hospital spending scandal.

Speaking today, the Cork North-Central TD said:

“I first drew attention to the presence of a senior civil servant from the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform on the Development Board of the National Children’s Hospital on 31 January at the Public Accounts Committee.

“I noted that not only was he the Chief Procurement Officer in the Office of Government Procurement, but he was a member of the Development Board, Finance and Procurement Subcommittees; intimately involved in the procurement process and cost escalation.

“His presence, and the responsibility of the Minister of Health as the Minister in charge of the project, failed to result in the Minister for Finance being informed of the overrun.

“The Comptroller and Auditor General today confirmed that, despite the words of the Finance Minister and the Taoiseach, this senior civil servant was indeed subject to a circular that required civil servants to report matters of grave concern to the relevant Minister.

“In his own words, ‘the re-iteration of that circular would apply’.

“A number of possibilities arise; either the Chief Procurement Officer raised no issues to the board of the ensuing cost escalation crisis, he did raise issues but was satisfied with the response, or he was unsatisfied with the response but failed to raise it to the Minister.

“The Minister must respond to this and revise his contradictory and incorrect assertions on the matter in the past week.

“This debacle has been punctuated by misinformation, mismanagement, and delay since it emerged to the general public. It is time for the Government to get real with the facts, rather than adopting its tired policy of spin.” 

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