The children’s hospital project lurches along in a financial shambles – all predictable, and predicted, by us – yet continually dismissed by the Fine Gael government in a web of untruths and obfuscation. The Taoiseach , Leo Varadkar, yesterday, 23 Jan 2020 (The Hard Shoulder, Newstalk 106) said that ” in recent months no one was calling for a re-tendering or a pause in the project”. Let us remind him of the following:-
June 2016 -Connolly for Kids Hospital(C4KH) umbrella group (which included among others the Jack and Jill Foundation, NCHA, the ExtraSpecial Kids group, patient advocates, Mr. Jimmy Sheehan ) delivered a letter at the gate of Government buildings to the then Taoiseach , Enda Kenny, signed by over 60,000 citizens asking that the choice of site for the hospital be reviewed. No answer was received – request ignored.
(access the letter on our blog -5th Sept. 2016)
February 2017 – C4KH wrote to every member of the Cabinet (copied to all TDs and Senators) with concerns including the possible awarding of a construction contract to BAM. That, too, was ignored and the contract awarded to BAM, April 2017
(Access the Letter to Cabinet on our blog – 9th Feb 2019)
October 2017 – C4KH requested and obtained a hearing before the Oireachtas Health Committee. The Committee invited the NPHDB to also attend. Again, our concerns were ignored by the Minister for Health
(read our submissions and comments on Home page www.connollyforkidshospital.com)
18th December 2018 – the Cabinet approved the awarding of Phase B(the overground build) of the construction contract to BAM, the day before the Oireachtas went into the Christmas recess . The contract was “instructed” to BAM on 8th January 2019 while the Oireachtas was still on recess, thus effectively scuppering the possibility of any democratic debate on the awarding, re-tendering or pausing of the contract without incurring financial penalty.
March 2019 – The Rural Independent group in the Dáil tabled a motion to — “.. immediately suspend construction of the National Children’s Hospital at the St James’s Hospital site pending the outcome of a time-limited independent investigation to assess the viability, cost and efficacy of re-tendering the project and transferring its location to a greenfield site with the capacity to include the co-location of a maternity hospital..”. This was defeated, as Amendment 3 by Fianna Fáil – which omitted the re-tendering or pausing of the project – proposed instead to “… include in the [then on-going] PwC report, in light of the massive cost overruns at the current site, an analysis of the total costs and delays associated with moving the site…” was passed. (Tá,112; Níl, 18; Staon, 3)
Cynically, Fine Gael and the Minister for Health who had voted ‘Tá’ then proceeded to ignore their own vote. The PwC report was published and contained no analysis of the delay or cost of moving the site.
And the Taoiseach is still suggesting that concerned citizens might continue to call on the Government for a project pause or re-tendering of the site?? To what purpose – to again and again plead for our children – just for their cause to continue to be treated with disdain??
We say- CHANGE THE GOVERNMENT. You have failed the children of Ireland.