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, 23 Jan 2020 (The Hard Shoulder, Newstalk 106) said that ” there’s nobody now saying they can build it any cheaper, certainly not at that site and nobody any more[is] calling for it to be re-tendered or paused “.
Let us skip the repeated concerns (2008-2015) that we – The New Children’s Hospital Alliance (NCHA) – spoke about again and again- in the media, to the NPH Independent Review (2011), to An Bord Pleanála (2011), the Dolphin Group (2012), An Bord Pleanála (2015) -about the falseness of the clinical argument in favour of the unsuitable city centre St.James’s site, its cost and the absence of the essential co-located, co-built Maternity. Let us remind the Taoiseach – just since 2016 – 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, Mr. Jimmy Sheehan, patient advocates, concerned citizens) 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 and that the Connolly hospital campus in Blanchardstown be again considered . No answer was received – request ignored.
(access the letter on our blog -5th Sept. 2016)
13 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 which had just announced (3rd Feb 2017)that it was the preferred bidder. That, despite no value for money or spending code standards applied or business case made. The cabinet, 26th April 2017 approved the awarding of the contract to BAM. The C4KH letter was ignored.
(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/dismissed by the Minister for Health.
(read our submissions, and our comments on the disinformation in the NPHDB presentation – Home page www.connollyforkidshospital.com
December 2018/January 2019 -The cabinet decided on 18th December 2018, despite the known massive increase in project cost, to award Phase B (the overground build) of the construction contract to BAM. The Oireachtas Christmas recess started December 20th. The contract was instructed to BAM on 8th January 2019 during the Oireachtas recess – thus preventing any democratic debate by Dáil members of the possibility of withdrawing, re-tendering or pausing the contract without financial penalty being incurred by the State, an option that was in the original contract (governing Phase A and Phase B) signed in August 2017.
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 [6 weeks] 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 and proposed instead just 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, including the Minister for Finance 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 any potential delay or of the cost of moving the site.
And now, January 2020, is the Taoiseach suggesting that if citizens care they should still 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 our expertise and message to be treated with disdain??
We say- CHANGE THE GOVERNMENT. You have failed the children and the taxpayers of Ireland.