The practice of securing a public contract by tendering €X but eventually asking for €X-plus-something-substantial seems well established.
The National Children’s Hospital was first estimated at €650m but the Dáil has been told costs are “like a runaway train” and have almost doubled to €1bn. The Department of Health once estimated a bed in that hospital would cost €828,000 but that figure has hit €2.5m.
The firm awarded the hospital contract, Bam Ireland, was also involved in building bypass roads at Tralee and Castleisland in recent years.
In Tralee, an estimate for €30m became a bill for €78m. In Castleisland, Bam asked for €19.18m over and above an agreed €14m. Kerry County Council has refused to release details of “confidential” settlements with Bam.
Three years ago, Bam won the contract for the stalled €53m Cork events centre. The State contributed €20m, but it is feared that another €10m will be sought to get the project up and running. Still more may be sought before completion.
Local minister, Simon Coveney, has promised that “Government will do what’s needed to make this happen” but Fianna Fáil’s Michael McGrath wants a “full and open briefing” before any more public money is provided. He is right.
Once again we are at that point where accountability for the way that public resources are used seems, at best, rudimentary and, at worst, flagrantly neglectful. And all the while a project that would greatly enhance the city is on hold.
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