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Majority of people think construction contract for Children's Hospital should be re-tendered

Health Minister Simon Harris said at the weekend that the Government will not re-tender the project.

Cranes. Cranes on the building site near St. James' campus. Source: RollingNews.ie

THE MAJORITY OF Irish people think the government should re-tender the contract for construction of the National Children’s Hospital. 

The Oireachtas Public Accounts Committee recently heard the total cost of the project is “highly unlikely” to come in under €2 billion. A figure of €983 million for the development was approved by the government in 2017.

Health Minister Simon Harris said at the weekend that the government will not re-tender the project, however. 

His comments came after the contractor behind the hospital, BAM, said that it would co-operate with the hospital board if they wanted it to opt out of the contract.

Monday night’s poll for Claire Byrne Live and TheJournal.ie, which was carried out by Amárach Research, revealed that 56% of people want to see the construction contract for the project put back out to tender following weeks of controversy over rising costs. 

Just over a quarter of people (28%) said they didn’t think the National Children’s Hospital should be re-tendered, while 16% of people said they didn’t know. 

The uncertainty about the project ramped up in December when Taoiseach Leo Varadkar told the Dáil that the children’s hospital may cost even more than what was, at the time, a €1.433 billion price tag – €450 million more than what it was projected to cost in April 2017.

Varadkar also acknowledged that several capital projects may have to be delayed due to the overspend. Price Waterhouse Coopers (PWC) is due to undertake a review of how the project’s construction costs spiraled but will stop short at holding individuals accountable. 

Health Minister Harris has said that he already considered re-tendering the project last year, but decided to proceed with BAM as changing the contractor would delay the project and see costs rise further.

Harris faces a vote of no-confidence today over the spiraling costs of the project. The Minister was strongly criticised by the opposition last week after it emerged he was informed in back August that the budget for the hospital could overrun by €391 million.

The poll was carried out by Amarách Research for Claire Byrne Live on Monday 18 February and the question was put to a panel of over 1,000 Irish adults.

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