Govt accused of hiding true scale of €99m cutbacks caused by children's hospital crisis

Govt accused of hiding true scale of €99m cutbacks caused by children's hospital crisis
Pictured are Minister for Health Simon Harris and Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe commenting to media outside Government Buildings yesterday. Photograph: RollingNews.ie.

The Government has been accused of deliberately hiding the true scale of the €99m capital projects budget cutbacks caused by the children's hospital crisis after failing to detail the exact areas now on the chopping block.

Opposition parties lashed out after Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe and Health Minister Simon Harris stopped short of providing any clear, grassroots information on which projects will be targeted.

In a bid to bring the runaway children's hospital costs under control, on Tuesday cabinet signed off on €99m worth of cuts to its capital projects budget for this year.

The cuts, which the Government has been at pains to describe as "re-profiling" and "deferring" projects which were planned for this year, have been forced on departments as a direct result of the hospital crisis, and include:

  • €27m from delayed payments for the planned A5 Dublin to Derry motorway
  • €24m for "smaller capital projects and repairs" in hospitals
  • €10m from the "re-scheduling" of work on the national forensic science lab
  • €16m from delaying some Project Ireland 2040 plans
  • and €4m from a "re-profiling" of some Department of Communications projects

However, despite the need to ensure the public is fully informed of the scale of the changes, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe and Health Minister Simon Harris failed to outline the exact details involved.

Announcing the plans in the Dáil, Mr Varadkar claimed the €27m Derry to Dublin motorway delay is the fault of the Stormont stalemate in Northern Ireland, and said the €10m national forensic science lab payment "can be deferred".

However, despite an expectation Mr Donohoe would reveal the full cuts details, he failed to do so at a later Government Buildings press briefing.

After denying when asked that he is trying to sell the public "a pig in a poke" over the failure to fully reveal the cuts, Mr Donohoe later said in response to criticism he is being vague for political reasons that he is giving as much information as he can "at this time".

In a statement last night a spokesperson said €24m "re-profiling" will be "restricted to delivering some smaller capital works such as repairs and replacements".

The spokesperson said the €24m was not yet allocated and was provided on a rolling basis where needed.

The spokesperson said "we are not talking about delaying or deferring any hospital project, any primary care centre and we are not talking about any community nursing unit", but failed to give any furtherl information on what the cuts involve.

Opposition parties lashed out at the response last night, accusing Government of trying to pull the wool over the public's eyes. They included Labour health spokesperson Alan Kelly, who warned the Government is trying to drip-feed information.

Paschal Donohoe has many questions to answer when it comes to why we are now in the position where projects will be put on the long finger. Minister Donohoe has completely damaged his own reputation as being responsible when it comes to taxpayer’s money by keeping his eye off the ball on this project.

“I’ll be pressing for both Minister Harris and Minister Donohoe to provide a list of what capital projects are being put on the back burner," he warned.

More on this topic

BAM seeks €12m extra costs for hospital workBAM seeks €12m extra costs for hospital work

Review conflict of interest - Children’s hospital cost overrunReview conflict of interest - Children’s hospital cost overrun

Paul Quinn tells PAC he would have been in breach of the law if he told Minister of hospital overspendPaul Quinn tells PAC he would have been in breach of the law if he told Minister of hospital overspend

HSE accused of 'making eejits' of Public Accounts Committee over children's hospitalHSE accused of 'making eejits' of Public Accounts Committee over children's hospital

More in this Section

Dublin assault: Man released without chargeDublin assault: Man released without charge

Firefighters battle another blaze in Sunbeam Industrial EstateFirefighters battle another blaze in Sunbeam Industrial Estate

Humphreys mulls over new laws governing work emails outside work hoursHumphreys mulls over new laws governing work emails outside work hours

Students skipping lectures to go to workStudents skipping lectures to go to work


Lifestyle

These are the pros who create Beyoncé’s glow and Lucy Boynton’s graphic eyes.Looking for beauty inspiration? Follow these celebrity make-up artists on Instagram

The former Great British Bake Off contestant shares her culinary recollections with Ella Walker.From eating mango with her grandmother to the smell of ghee, these are Chetna Makan’s food memories

Don’t let the late summer rain wash away all your homegrown herbs. We offer top tips on how to keep them going, long after summer has faded.Harvesting herbs: How to make 5 easily homegrown herbs last beyond summer

The beauty world has gone loco for coconuts, says Katie Wright.9 nourishing coconut beauty products that will work wonders on your hair and body

More From The Irish Examiner