MEMO TO NICOLA STURGEON, JEANE FREEMAN, JOHN BROWN AND JANE GRANT, CEO of the HEALTH BOARD

QE2 Hospital

Dirty water deaths have damaged the new QE2 University Hospital.

It may be some consolation to you to know that it’s not just you lot who are being taken for mugs by the construction industry  …

National children’s hospital chairman ‘gobsmacked’ by committee questions

‘I’m not really here to interview for the job,’ Fred Barry tells Public Accounts Committee
The chairman of the new national children’s hospital in the Irish Republic told the Public Accounts Committee he was “gobsmacked” by questions put to him during an appearance on Thursday morning.

When questioned on the final cost of the project, Fred Barry said he not know what this will be. Mr Barry confirmed the project will cost an extra €50 million on inflation alone if the current inflation levels remain the same.

The National Paediatric Hospital Development Board appeared before the Public Accounts Committee to update TDs on cost controls around the project following significant escalations in recent years.

Sinn Féin TD Imelda Munster asked Mr Barry if it was the case “we have no idea whatsoever the final costs will be”.

Mr Barry said that “it’s not a yes or a no”.

“The contractor will make claims, we will resist them. It would be a surprise if some of those claims don’t stick before the job is over. It’s true we can’t say exactly where it is going to end up,” Mr Barry said.

“I think from that response it is fair to say that the €1.7 billion is aspirational rather than a reality,” Ms Munster said.

She queried the board on why minutes of recent meetings were redacted when the discussion was in relation to the construction inflation.

Mr Barry confirmed that if inflation runs to 7 per cent, where it is currently stands, the project will cost an extra €50 million.

The board was also questioned this morning on its experience in building hospitals.

“I have built no hospital on a greenfield basis,” Mr Barry said.

Ms Munster said her point was that “the lack of experience will allow contractors to play you for fools”.

Mr Barry said he was “gobsmacked” by the questions.

“I accept that there may be others, much better than me at the job. But I was asked to do it so I’m not really here to interview for the job,” he said.

Sinn Féin TD David Cullinane said he was concerned the board was “taking a casual approach to the Public Accounts and getting irritated”.