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CIF director 'misspoke' about possible 40% increase in cost of National Children's Hospital

Tom Parlon made the claim on Tuesday to the Oireachtas Special Committee on Covid-19 Response.

File image from 2019 of construction at the site of the National Children's Hospital.
File image from 2019 of construction at the site of the National Children's Hospital.
Image: Sam Boal

THE DIRECTOR GENERAL of the Construction Industry Federation (CIF) said he “misspoke” when he claimed the cost of the National Children’s Hospital could rise by as much as 40% due to the fallout from Covid-19. 

Tom Parlon made this claim on Tuesday in front of the Oireachtas Special Committee on Covid-19 Response.

He now clarified that this 40% figure is in relation to a possible reduction in productivity on complex projects, such as the National Children’s Hospital, as a result of Covid-19 restrictions. 

Speaking on RTÉ radio’s Today with Sarah McInerney, Parlon corrected his comments from earlier this week. 

“I sort of misspoke on that. What I meant to say was that productivity could be reduced by up to 40% on those very complex projects while the very severe current regulations are in place,” he said. 

“Of course I said it. It wasn’t my intention to give that reflection. I don’t think there is any likelihood anything as mad as a 40% increase in costs will be the case. Productivity certainly will be impacted.”

On Tuesday afternoon, Parlon said he had been informed by “industry figures” that the cost of large projects could increase significantly. 

Parlon also added that with projects already set back some time after sites closed due to Covid-19, restrictions limiting the number employees on a site could see further delays and an increase in costs. 

The director general reiterated on RTÉ radio that he had meant to say there could be a 40% reduction in employee productivity on complex projects as a result of these restrictions. 

“I didn’t clarify the situation, but I’m very happy to clarify it now,” he said today.  

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Construction at the new National Children’s Hospital at St James’ ceased on 31 March, following criticism of BAM for continuing construction on the site. 

Parlon declined to give a revised estimate for a rise in construction costs, but said Ireland is “not going to be an outlier in terms of the world”.

He said the companies he talks to are “not in a position yet to calculate the costs” at this time. 

In terms of the time delay for complex projects, Parlon said a two-year project could increase by “three or four years extra” if the two-metre requirement for social distancing remains in place long-term. 

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