The developers of the National Children’s Hospital have submitted claims for additional costs worth some €12m since February.
Members of the Oireachtas Public Accounts Committee (PAC) have been told of further spiralling costs associated with the project.
It has previously been confirmed that the overall cost of the project has ballooned to €1.7bn. It now appears that this figure could increase further, with inflation potentially driving it even higher.
Members of the committee yesterday criticised health officials who were unable to pin down exactly what the final cost could be.
Fred Barry, who was named chairman of the National Children’s Hospital in February, said he is aware of “many additional claims” for costs from the developer since he was appointed.
Mr Barry said that none of the claims has yet been substantiated, but said they amount to approximately €12m.
PAC members also raised concerns about the impact of inflation.
Fianna Fáil TD Marc MacSharry said the current budget of €1.7bn is “just wrong”, as it is based on construction inflation remaining stable at 4%. However, if this increases to 10%, it could cost an extra €100m.
“Inflation in Dublin this year is between 10% and 12% already,” said Mr MacSharry. “Does anyone have a guess at what it will actually cost?”
Jim Breslin, secretary general of the Department of Health, said that inflation of 7% could cost an extra €47m.
“It is reasonable to say €50m. If inflation changes, it will be in excess of that,” he said.
The State will also have to provide a charity with some €10m to help provide overnight accommodation for the families of sick children at the hospital.
The Ronald McDonald House Charities had previously indicated they would provide accommodation “in full” but have since approached the Department of Health and informed them that fundraising alone will not be sufficient to provide for the facility.
Currently, the charity provides accommodation for families of children being treated at Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital in Crumlin.
Mr Breslin said the charity is now seeking a contribution of €10m from the State —a figure which could rise further.
“It depends on fundraising efforts from them,” Mr Breslin added.
“We utterly relied on a charity to do this and now they are coming back and saying they aren’t so charitable?” Independent TD Catherine Connolly asked.