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Lorna Gardiner
new children's hospital

No agreed completion date for new children's hospital, says Donnelly

The board for the project is refusing to accept the contractor’s revised date, after it said it would not meet the most recent deadline of May 2024.

LAST UPDATE | 24 Aug 2023

THERE IS CURRENTLY no projected completion date for the new children’s hospital, as the board for the development is refusing to accept the latest estimated end date from the contractors.

Health Minister Stephen Donnelly has said the board most recently approved a completion date of May 2024, but the contractors have since said this will not be met.

That was after the contractor revised an estimate end date of March 2024.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, Donnelly said: “They then resubmitted again with another date which the board at this point has not accepted.”

He did not say what this date was. “The contractor has signalled to the board that they don’t believe they’re going to be able to meet [the] May [deadline] and so there isn’t an agreed final future date.”

In 2017, the Children’s Hospital project was forecast to cost €983 million. The following year, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar told the Dáil that it would cost €1.4 billion.

That increased again to €1.73 billion in 2019.

Donnelly said that the contractor has submitted over 2,000 claims totalling €760 million.

The project was delayed by the Covid-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine, and Donnelly could not say today what the estimated overall cost would be. He said the contractor is seeking an additional €760 million but “the board, obviously, is saying: ‘[They're] not getting anything like that.’”

He said that “the hospital is 90% complete. There’s 10% left and the focus at the moment is inside the hospital, mainly on finishing out the mechanical and the electrical works.”

river (12) Lorna Gardiner / RollingNews.ie Lorna Gardiner / RollingNews.ie / RollingNews.ie

latest-pictures-of-the-new-childrens-hospital-photo-hse

The project had accounted for inflation of around 4% but the Consumer Price Index peaked at over 9% last year.

Chief officer of the hospital development board David Gunning previously warned of “inadvertently giving targets to the contractor that they look at with a great degree of desire to land”.

“Claims are a part of construction contracts. If the contractor considers that under the contract there should be an extension of time, or an adjustment to the contract sum, or that if the contractor has any other entitlements in connection with or under the contract, the contractor submits a claim,” he said.

However, he said those costs are not guaranteed to be awarded to the contractor, and will be fought by the board.

Opposition parties have today called for more transparency surrounding the project.

Sinn Féin’s health spokesperson David Cullinane accused Donnelly of taking a “hands-off|” approach to the development.

Cullinane said in a statement: “I was deeply disappointed and frustrated with the Minister for Health’s less than reassuring interview on Morning Ireland this morning.

“We are now at a stage where the lead developer is saying they cannot deliver the project by May next year, and the Development Board is saying they don’t believe them and that the developer has failed to sufficiently resource the project.

“We need honesty, transparency, and certainty in relation to this project. We need full disclosure of the relevant facts. The Minister is fooling nobody by hiding the facts.”

Catherine Murphy of the Social Democrats said the government “has lost control of the project”.

She said in a statement today: “Minister Donnelly’s comments on RTÉ Radio this morning were deeply troubling. While conceding that the latest completion date of May 2024 will not be met, he refused to reveal the revised handover deadline put forward by the developer.

“This suggests there has been a further drift in the works schedule that far exceeds our worst expectations.

“With costs expected to soar above the €2 billion mark, this will end up being the world’s most expensive hospital. It beggars belief that the Minister is unable to provide even minimal clarity about what is the biggest capital project in the history of the health service.”

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