Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees

Wednesday, 6 February 2019

Joint Oireachtas Committee on Health

Quarterly Update on Health Issues: Discussion
Quarterly Update on Health Issues: Discussion

Photo of Simon HarrisSimon Harris (Wicklow, Fine Gael) | Oireachtas source

Could I add to that? There are two points I would make. The first, which echoes the Secretary General's, is important. We have had, and I have appeared before, Oireachtas committees that have predetermined the outcome of expert reports only to be proven to be 100% incorrect. We have had committees talking about cover-ups and the like.

We have expert reports, such as that produced by Dr. Scally, that found that there was none. If we are going down the route of an expert inquiry, which we are, have been collaborative in trying to make sure those terms of reference are robust and have taken on board and addressed the weaknesses in them that were rightly highlighted by members of this committee, we should allow it to do its work. I know the Deputy is a believer in that due process.

This should be a cause of great frustration and concern to all of us because if we look at the competencies and skill sets of the people on the board of the National Paediatric Hospital Development Board and take out the names because this is not about personalities, it does read like a "Who's Who" in terms of who we would want to develop capital projects. Without getting into the names, we are talking about chartered engineers, former managing directors of very large construction companies, a solicitor with 40 years' experience in dealing with public authorities, developers, architects, engineers, surveyors and builders. We are talking about people who have won significant commendation or who are members of the International Court of Arbitration along with chartered engineers, a former president of the Institution of Engineers of Ireland, a founding director of the Environmental Protection Agency, an architect by profession, people who have worked outside the jurisdiction, a fellow of the Royal Institute of Architects, a deputy chairperson of An Bord Pleanála and a procurement expert. Often politicians are accused of tapping random people on the shoulder and saying "congratulations, you're on this board because you're a branch chair" or something stupid like that. I am not saying this to throw bouquets at the Government because I did not make these decisions. This was and is a competency-based board in terms of the skill sets of its members to deliver major projects. That adds to the frustration. The board had such a skill set yet, clearly, the price the Government presumed to be the price of the national children's hospital based on all of the expert and professional advice available to that board - €983 million - turned out to be a far higher cost. I hear people jump up and down about this project and how it will cost €2 billion and more than that. Can we please let the record show that the sanctioned sum for this project is €1.4 billion? We have asked PwC to look at how we can mitigate some of those costs. Included within that €1.4 billion along with money wasted - €40 million on the Mater site that never took off - is an effort to get philanthropy. Something that is not included but must be considered is the future role of the assets we have such as Our Lady's Hospital, Crumlin, when it moves to a new hospital and the value on that in terms of new services being delivered there or funding that could be provided towards the cost of this new hospital.


No comments

Log in or join to post a public comment.