The children’s hospital crisis and revelations the project will cost at least €1.7bn has been branded “a fucking joke” by a TD during a Dáil debate which has led to yet more questions over the future of the facility.
Independent TD and MEP election candidate for Ireland South Mick Wallace hit out at the cost revelations and last week’s PwC report into the scandal, before being warned about foul language in the Dáil.
Speaking during a late-night debate on the children’s hospital, Fianna Fáil, Sinn Féin, and Labour’s health spokespersons Stephen Donnelly, Louise O’Reilly, and Alan Kelly lashed out at the issues surrounding the project.
During exchanges with Health Minister Simon Harris, Mr Donnelly said the hospital’s “glass dome” design has become “a vanity project” for a Government that has “squeezed” frontline funding. He questioned whether the maternity hospital will ever move to the site.
Mr Kelly said it is “unbelievable” to claim officials who would “argue with you over a fiver” did not know about the cost overruns before they officially knew.
Ms O’Reilly said the “Government spin” that it has been vindicated by the PwC report is untrue as it found the project had glaring problems from the start.
After hitting out at the tendering process and claiming the costs crisis would never have happened in the private sector, Mr Wallace said he and the public are furious about what is taking place.
Criticising the Government’s response to date, he momentarily silenced a mainly empty Dáil by saying the scandal surrounding the project is “a fucking joke”.
Despite similar criticism from Sinn Féin’s Jonathan O’Brien and Independent TD Catherine Connolly, Mr Harris had earlier defended the response to the children’s hospital, saying the Government is focused on the best interests of sick children.
Mr Harris said he wanted to reiterate the Government’s “extreme unhappiness” with the issues that have caused the cost overruns at the hospital.
However, he said changes are taking place to address the issues, and that he and Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe will bring forward new governance plans to help reforms to Cabinet next month.