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Government must stop blaming BAM & accept their own abject failure to deliver the National Children’s Hospital on budget – Jonathan O’Brien TD

15 February, 2019 - by Jonathan O'Brien TD

Sinn Féin Junior Finance Spokesperson Jonathan O’Brien has called on the Government to take responsibility for the deepening fiasco at the National Children’s Hospital, as the main contractor has offered to pull out of the project.

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

“Today’s news that the main contractor, BAM, has offered to pull out of the contract to build the National Children’s Hospital is unsurprising.

“BAM issued this offer after the Taoiseach attempted to shift the blame for a €450 million overspend from his own Government to the main contractor. This was a predictably cynical move by the Taoiseach that no one buys.

“This overspend is a direct result of departmental incompetence from the procurement stage through to a cost escalation that Minister Harris has failed and refused to handle.

“It was the Health Minister who chose to adopt a two-stage procurement process despite knowing it was unprecedented and untested in the State.

“It was the Minister who chose a two-stage approach despite knowing it would place added pressure on the design team which could lead directly to significantly higher costs.

“These are the problems that have come to pass and have directly led to an overspend of €450 million.

“Despite these warnings, the two-stage process was chosen.

“This experiment was chosen, despite its risks, in order to complete the hospital as soon as possible and to offer another ribbon-cutting PR event for Fine Gael.

“It was the Taoiseach as Minister for Health who proceeded with this two-stage approach, and it was Minister Harris who failed to act as the costs continued to rise.

“In the procurement strategy report, one of the benefits of the approach chosen was to allow the State to make a strategic change if the price did not deliver value for money. 

“That strategic change required engagement and leadership from the Minister for Health. He provided neither and now we have a €450 million overrun. He should leave the stage.

“The Government should stop blaming the main contractor and acknowledge its own abject failure to deliver this project.

“I call on all of the relevant parties to come before the Public Accounts Committee, end the drip feed of vital information, and find a solution that delivers this project on time and at a value that protects the public interest.”

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