Children’s hospital board member to face PAC

The Government’s public representative on the children’s hospital board is set to attend a meeting with TDs today, a month after he didn’t appear at an earlier meeting.

The Department of Public Expenditure’s chief procurement officer Paul Quinn will discuss the issue with the Dáil’s Public Accounts Committee today after weeks of delays. At the start of this year it emerged that the children’s hospital spending levels are surging towards €2bn.

Repeated questions have surrounded when Mr Quinn, who sits on the national paediatric hospital development board, first became aware of the spending problems. This is because, as a public representative on the board, he was obliged to inform his department and as a consequence the Government when this occurred.

Opposition politicians have repeatedly raised questions over the Government’s timeline of when it was told of the project problems, saying Mr Quinn holds the key to clarifying the situation.

However, despite a request to attend a PAC meeting on the issue last month, Department of Public Expenditure secretary general Robert Watt refused to bring him, while an updated April 18 meeting was delayed until today by the board.

At the time of the April 18 delay, the national paediatric hospital development board wrote to the PAC to say the meeting needed to be pushed back until mid-May because the PwC report had yet to be published at that stage. The PAC meeting will also hear from the new national paediatric hospital development board chair Fred Barry, who will say the national children’s hospital will be finished by 2023.

In his opening statement, Department of Health secretary general Jim Breslin will also tell the PAC this morning that there will be serious concerns about a lack of “corporate knowledge” if senior officials leave their roles over the costs crisis.

The PAC meeting will also be given an update from the department on the latest costs of the project, while in a separate document officials have moved to assure TDs there was no conflict of interest in PwC examining the spending over-run, despite PwC being involved in the project.

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