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Minister Harris reappointed Children’s Hospital Development Board without questioning or seeking performance appraisals during overspend – Jonathan O’Brien TD

28 February, 2019 - by Jonathan O'Brien TD


Sinn Féin’s deputy spokesperson for Public Expenditure & Reform, Jonathan O’Brien TD, has criticised the Minister for Health for failing to exercise any oversight over the National Children’s Hospital before reappointing the entire Development Board during the project’s staggering overspend of €450 million.

According to information received in reply to a parliamentary question, the Minister admitted he asked no questions and sought no reports or project appraisals before reappointing the entire Development Board.

Speaking today, the Cork North-Central TD said:

“As the dust settles on the massive overspend at the National Children’s Hospital, questions remain over the conduct of the Minister for Health during the critical months of the project’s overspend.

“In a parliamentary question I asked the Minister for Health if he sought a report or update on the projects including the negotiation of the Guaranteed Maximum Price, which escalated by €450 million, before reappointing the entire board of the project in the summer of 2018. This as we now know was a critical time in the escalation of costs.

“In his response the Minister failed to answer the question, only stating that he reappointed the board members in July upon their request to be reappointed.

“The following day I received a further reply, confirming that beyond reappointing the Board, no meetings were held or correspondence took place between members of the Development Board and the Minister for Health in the month before its reappointment.

“While the Minister has received the full confidence of his party colleagues and Fianna Fáil, it is a startling acknowledgment of inaction by the Minister for Health that he appointed the entire Development Board of his department’s largest capital project without seeking advice on the board’s performance, or discussing the results of the board’s annual performance appraisals to inform reappointment.

“As we head towards a multi-billion euro capital programme in the Department of Health, we simply cannot afford such levels of ineptitude and mismanagement at the heart of government.

“While he remains in his post, Minister Harris needs to focus on the proper management of capital programs within his department.”

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