Tánaiste: Simon Harris 'wanted complete information' about children's hospital costs before consulting Govt

Tánaiste: Simon Harris 'wanted complete information' about children's hospital costs before consulting Govt

Update: Tánaiste Simon Coveney has defended the Health Minister Simon Harris' version of events around the cost overruns of the National Children's Hospital:

It comes after Fianna Fáil accused the Minister of misleading the Dáil about the issue.

Mr Coveney said: "I have absolute confidence in Simon Harris. The costs have increased, he had some of that information in August, but it wasn't complete information and he wanted complete information before he could go back to the Government to make a decision."

Earlier: Simon Harris 'clearly misled' the Dáil about children' hospital - Fianna Fáil

Fianna Fáil’s spokesperson on Education and Skills, Thomas Byrne has claimed that Minister for Health Simon Harris has “clearly misled” Fianna Fáil and the Dáil.

Tánaiste: Simon Harris 'wanted complete information' about children's hospital costs before consulting Govt

He said that details of the overrun on the cost of the national children’s hospital would not have been revealed if Fianna Fáil TDs had not asked questions.

“We have been doing our jobs. My colleagues have been getting the information out all week. It is outrageous and shocking.”

He told RTE’s Today with Sean O’Rourke show: “we want to find out exactly what’s been happening.”

Mr Byrne said he agreed with his party colleague Barry Cowen and leader Micheál Martin that “only for Brexit there would be a general election.

“We want to make sure that nothing damages the country’s interests in terms of Brexit.”

He warned that there is “lots more information to come out that we don’t know. It is hard to know what was happening, there is conflicting and new information coming out all the time.”

Simon Harris, Paschal Donohoe and Leo Varadkar have not given a proper explanation of what happened, he added.

He also said that Sinn Féin were “playing games” with their call for a vote of no confidence in the Minister for Health. “They’re irrelevant to this. We don’t need Sinn Féin or other parties, we’re dealing with this very carefully.

“We’re the ones gathering information. We will do what is in the national interest.”

Simon Harris had shown “reckless disregard for the money of the people of Ireland. While this was going on he was pushing for a general election. Was there a plan to cover this up and to move on?”

Fine Gael backbencher Peter Burke defended the Minister for Health saying that he had to first establish the facts. He could not “bring woolly memos to Cabinet. Once he had solid information, he shared it with the Cabinet.

“Simon Harris has a responsibility to come to Cabinet with the exact facts and figures.”

He said there were too many people in the current Dáil “rushing to be judge, jury and executioner.”

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