Budget overrun of National Children’s Hospital requires accountability

Athlone Town Mayor, Cllr. Frankie Keena, has expressed immense dissatisfaction with the manner in which the Government and in particular, public representative, Minister Simon Harris, is proceeding with his health brief.

“Apart from the ongoing trolley crisis and large waiting lists to see a consultant, the Government has let down the women of Ireland with regard to the cervical cancer screening errors, industrial unrest remains within the health sector, while the budget for the building of the national children’s hospital has now overrun,” Cllr. Keena remarked.

The Town Mayor criticised the Minister’s “lack of judgement” for failing to inform his Government colleagues of the budget overrun.

“A finance overrun of €391 million on the national children’s hospital project is totally unacceptable and the fact that Minister Simon Harris knew of these possible extra costs in August last and did not inform the Minister for Finance until November displays a total lack of judgement,” Cllr. Keena commented.

Cllr. Keena continued, noting that he had received numerous calls from the general public who expressed their shock and dismay with the news.

“There is an urgent need for accountability and transparency to find out the reasons as to why such an occurence has arisen and hopefully the PWC report will clarify this. While it is presumable that there are a number of individuals responsible for this major error, the man with the overall responsibility is the Minister for Health, Minister Simon Harris.

“I note that Leo Varadkar gave his firm backing to his political colleague on Friday last, but afterwards conceded that the controversy of the children’s hospital has damaged ‘faith and confidence’ in the Government.

“In my view, the only manner in which to cut back on project costs is to stall on site development, evaluate what has gone wrong and identify all costings with immediate effect. It is only after such a scenario concludes that work should recommence,” Mayor Keena concluded.

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