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Sunday 5 February 2023 Dublin: 8°C
Lauren Boland/The Journal Work on the roof garden of the new National Children's Hospital.
# rising costs
Final cost of National Children’s Hospital ‘may not be known for years’
Social Democrats co-leader Róisín Shortall said there seemed to be a “perennial problem” in Ireland with delivering major infrastructure projects.

IT COULD BE years before the full cost of the new National Children’s Hospital in Dublin is known, the co-leader of the Social Democrats has said.

Róisín Shortall said there seemed to be a “perennial problem” in Ireland with delivering major infrastructure projects.

But a government minister said the priority was now ensuring the new facility opened in 2024.

Construction on the new children’s hospital began in July 2016 and the project has run into significant delays and financial overruns. The final cost of the project is expected to be over €2 billion. 

The three existing children’s hospitals at Crumlin, Temple Street and Tallaght will move to the new site at the St James’s University Hospital campus Dublin which is almost 80% complete.

The facility is due to be substantially complete by March 2024.

There are some 900 outstanding claims from the developers of the hospital, at a cost of around €500 million.

Speaking during Leaders’ Questions last week, Taoiseach Micheál Martin declined to give an estimate on the final cost of the hospital, saying to do so would be a “mistake”.

“That would be a mistake because if you’re interested in costs, you don’t announce to the contractor the level at which you want to go to. That is the wrong approach to take,” he said.

Appearing on RTÉ’s The Week In Politics programme today, Shortall said: “We seem to have a perennial problem in this country in terms of being incapable of major public infrastructure projects.

“The price was estimated at €1.4 billion in 2018, that price hasn’t been revised since then, there is absolutely no transparency or clarity about what the final price is likely to be.

“There are over 900 claims against the State in relation to the cost of this. It may be years after the hospital is open before we find out what the final cost is.

“We need to control prices in relation to projects like this.”

Minister of State for Business Damien English said he was delighted that progress was being made on construction of the hospital

“The priority is that it is now close to being open and should be open in 2024 all going well,” he said.

“In relation to the cost, any large construction project there is going to be overruns, there is going to be extra costs, that is normal. It’s a 10-year project.

“What is key here though is that we put in place a process and procedures to protect the taxpayer, that no-one can take advantage when it comes to the cost.”

But Sinn Féin TD Pádraig Mac Lochlainn responded: “The contract that was put in place by the Government leaves little room for manoeuvre.

“It has been a shambles of a project. A mismanaged project from the outset. It is still not clear what the final cost will be.

“Lessons do need to be learnt. We are locked into it now, we need this vital project to be completed as soon as possible but lessons need to be learnt from this mess.”

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