Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees

Wednesday, 13 March 2019

Joint Oireachtas Committee on Health

National Paediatric Hospital Development Board: Chairperson Designate

9:00 am

Photo of Stephen DonnellyStephen Donnelly (Wicklow, Fianna Fail)
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I thank Mr. Barry for contacting the committee and appearing before us. He has picked up the baton half way through the race, and it is a fraught race indeed. I wish him and his team the very best of luck.

Mr. Barry will be aware that there is serious public concern and widespread anger at the cost overruns from an initial declaration in 2016 of €650 million to a final Cabinet sign-off in 2017 of €980 million, representing a 50% increase, from that €980 million to €1.4 billion the following year, which was 50% extra again, and an additional €300 million on top of that for commissioning, IT and so forth, bringing us up to €1.7 billion. What is Mr. Barry's position on this? I appreciate that he is still chair designate and this will take time, but he is someone with significant experience in large capital programmes. As the incoming chair, what is his view as to the cost of €1.7 billion? Does he believe that it is an unavoidable and high cost for a complex project or that the cost has spiralled and it no longer represents a reasonable cost for that building?

If so, does Mr. Barry believe there are opportunities at this stage to bring the costs back down through an extensive value engineering exercise? He may, of course, think none of those things. What is his sense of where we are at with the current cost? Is it reasonable and can it be brought back down?