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Harris says National Children's Hospital will open as planned in 2023, despite reported delays

The project has been mired in controversy over spiralling costs.

Health Minister Simon Harris and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar pictured at the site of the NCH in 2017.
Health Minister Simon Harris and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar pictured at the site of the NCH in 2017.
Image: RollingNews.ie

HEALTH MINISTER SIMON Harris has said the National Children’s Hospital is on schedule to open in 2023, despite reports that the project may be delayed.

Harris said the hospital’s construction is “complex” but claimed it is on track to open as planned.  

“At various stages, some bits will be behind schedule, some bits will be ahead of schedule, but overall they remain on schedule to deliver the hospital in 2022 and open the hospital in 2023.

“This is the most complex construction project ever undertaken in our health service. It’s probably one of the largest construction projects underway right across Europe at the moment,” Harris told reporters today.

“I don’t accept that there will be delays,” he added.

Harris noted that Fred Barry, the chair of the board responsible for building the new hospital, has said that “some parts of the project will be ahead of schedule, some parts will be behind, but overall they remain committed to bringing the project in on time in 2022″.

According to the Irish Times, an internal HSE report has warned that the “capital project for the new children’s hospital is facing delays to the construction programme which could impact critical timelines if mitigation measures are not taken”.

The document reportedly stated that a revised programme of work is being compiled. 

‘Huge progress’ 

When asked about potential delays to the project, Harris said “huge progress has been made” on the hospital.

“I’ve stood in the site at St James’s, I’ve stood in the building, which I think is now up to the second floor, huge progress has been made.”

The project has been mired in controversy over spiralling costs – the final bill is expected to be over €1.7 billion, an increase of €450 million since the government first backed the project in April 2017. It was estimated to cost about €750 million in 2014.

However, opposition parties have warned that the total cost could exceed €2 billion.

“We’re building this hospital, no one will regret building this hospital. It will be delivered, it will open in 2023 and it will conclude construction in 2022,” Harris said.

He made the comments at the launch of the Vaccine Alliance in Dublin today. 

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