Children's Hospital contractor submits claims for extra costs

Children's Hospital contractor submits claims for extra costs

The contractor on the National Children's Hospital has submitted claims for more money, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said.

Speaking in the Dáil today, the Taoiseach confirmed that the contractor on the controversial project has submitted new claims, but these “have yet to be adjudicated on”.

As a result, the final cost of the National Children's Hospital will exceed €2 billion, Labour's Alan Kelly said.

Mr Varadkar claimed that there has been no increase on the 2019 budget allocation for the building.

"There has been no change to the budget allocated (for the National Children's Hospital) in December 2018," he said. "The contracter has, however, submitted claims and these have to be adjudicated.

"It's not unusual in a major construction project for a contractor to submit claims if they believe they have had to carry out works that was beyond the contract."

Responding to the Taoiseach's comments, Mr Kelly said he has obtained information which would lead him to believe that these claims are substantial and fair.

Mr Kelly said this will have a cumulative effect across the remaining period of construction.

Meanwhile, the Dáil was suspended after Opposition TDs strongly objected to having their motion ruled out of order by Ceann Comhairle Sean O'Fearghail.

Solidarity-People Before Profit TDs Richard Boyd Barrett and Brid Smith railed at Mr O'Fearghail over his decision to rule their 'money-message' bill as not being compliant with the Constitution.

“Some 11 days ago, we submitted a motion to change Standing Orders, the rules of this House, to remove this blockage on all of those Bills and allow their passage through the House. Last night, however, we received a letter from the Ceann Comhairle, stating that we would not even be allowed to have our motion put on the Order Paper, never mind debate it or have it voted upon,” Mr Boyd Barrett said.

"We are now in uncharted territory because the Ceann Comhairle is now saying that a motion, which we submitted 11 days ago, that the Ceann Comhairle now will not allow on the Order Paper and which is due to be debated in the Dáil tomorrow, cannot be moved by us, debated or voted upon."

"That is sabotaging the right of TDs to put forward motions in this House. That is unacceptable,” he said.

Ms Smith said: “We are not going to sit here and take it. There will be no preamble and no referral to the Dáil reform committee. We have a right to put the motion. We submitted it 11 days ago. My office put a great deal of work into it, yet we were told 'end of' at 9 pm last night. I do not accept that.

"I was elected by the people of Dublin South-Central to represent their interests and I am going to stand here until I am allowed to do that. I do not accept being pushed around in this shoddy way. It is not me you are insulting, but the people of Ballyfermot, Drimnagh, Walkinstown and elsewhere. How dare the House do that?"

The Ceann Comhairle responded by telling Ms Smith: “Deputy, I admire your passion for the issue, but you are a little misguided. This is a constitutional assembly. We must have regard to the Constitution.”

During lengthy and tetchy exchanges, other Opposition TDs including Fianna Fáil Leader Micheál Martin and Labour Leader Brendan Howlin raised concerns about the Government's use of the money message proviso to stymie legislation.

Again Mr O'Fearghail responded by saying his decision is fully in accordance with long-established rulings and parliamentary practice on the authority of the Chair to apply, interpret and rule on Standing Orders and matters of order generally.

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