Thursday, 7 February 2019
Ceisteanna ó Cheannairí - Leaders' Questions
I thank the Deputy for wishing me well and noting my willingness to take the opportunity to answer these questions. I understand the connection people are making between the overrun in costs on the national children's hospital and the nurses' strike. I have spoken to many people who are making that connection, including on doorsteps in my constituency. I have spoken to a number of nurses, even retired nurses, about it.
The Deputy asked whether it was credible that information had not been passed on. I believe what has been said by the Ministers. I am the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs and have come to the debate with that role in mind. The major questions asked by the Deputy concerned credibility, management, political oversight and accountability and they are important. It is the job of this House and the Opposition to hold Ministers to account and that is what Deputy Calleary and other colleagues in the Chamber are doing. This is the third time this week different members of the Government have been asked questions by the Opposition about the extraordinary increase in costs at the national children's hospital, as well as questions about the nursing strike. The Minister for Health, Deputy Harris, and the Minister for Finance, Deputy Paschal Donohoe, have just answered questions about the strike and have both appeared before committees this week to answer questions. I know that there are outstanding questions and that we have to get to the bottom of them. The Deputy wants answers. As an Independent member of the Government, I also want answers. For that reason, PwC has been commissioned to review the escalation in costs.