Latest: Call to halt works at National Children's Hospital site as contractor offers to 'opt out'

Update 5.34pm: The firm behind the construction of the new National Children’s Hospital has said it would “opt out” of the contract if the board wanted to retender the controversial project.

In a statement, Kildare firm BAM also said “it did not benefit inappropriately from the tender process” and that much of the commentary was based on “incomplete and inaccurate information”.

Following the statement Independent TD Mattie McGrath called on the Taoiseach and the Health Minister to put an immediate halt to works being carried out on the St James’s site and for due consideration to be given to the relocation of the new hospital.

Mr McGrath said: “The statement by BAM today completely undermines the narrative that has been put out there by the Taoiseach, the Minister for Health and indeed the Minister for Public Expenditure, Pascal Donohoe, with respect to the alleged inability to reconsider a possible relocation of the NCH.”

His comments came after Independent TD Mick Wallace claimed in the Dáil on Thursday that retendering the construction contract for the hospital would save half a billion euro.

Mr Wallace said that cancelling the current deal would make financial sense in the long term and that it was not too late to do so before costs spiralled further.

But the Government rejected the claim.

Tánaiste Simon Coveney said the advice being given to Government was that retendering would not result in a saving.

Meanwhile, the National Paediatric Hospital Development Board says it is "committed to delivering the new children's hospital".

It issued a statement on the matter this evening.

- Press Association

Earlier: Contractor offers to opt out of children's hospital; calls for Taoiseach to clarify Dáil statements

Update 1.44pm: The company contracted to build the National Children's Hospital has offered to opt out of the contract if the hospital board wishes for it to re-tender for it.

BAM is the lead contractor for the project and the firm has said that much of the commentary in recent weeks on the cost overruns at the hospital is "based on incomplete and inaccurate information".

They have also highlighted the Taoiseach's comments in the Dáil this week when he was asked about the tendering process for the children's hospital.

Mr Varadkar had said on Tuesday in response to questions from Independent TD Michael Lowry: "We also particularly want to look at past form of contractors and public service references because there are one or two contractors who quite frankly I would not like see get a public contract again in this State."

Theo Cullinane, the chief executive of BAM, said : "In response to the Taoiseach’s comments in the Dáil on Tuesday February 12 last, BAM has written to the Taoiseach directly to respectfully request him to clarify that he was not referring to BAM in the Dáil and that BAM has made and continues to make a significant contribution to Ireland, including in the context of the New Children’s Hospital, where BAM is in full compliance with all its obligations.

In its statement, the Kildare-based firm said it did not "benefit inappropriately from the tender process" for the project.

However, BAM said the company "will continue its commitment to the new Children's Hospital and the confidence of all parties involved is a vital requirement for the company."

They said they will engage with PwC to ensure all relevant facts are disclosed.

Their statement said: "In recent weeks there have been many adverse comments in relation to the New Children’s Hospital.

"BAM wishes to confirm that it did not benefit inappropriately from the tender process and much of the commentary is based on incomplete and inaccurate information."

"BAM will fully engage with PwC to ensure all relevant facts are disclosed.

"In response to the Taoiseach’s comments in the Dáil on Tuesday February 12 last, BAM has written to the Taoiseach directly to respectfully request him to clarify that he was not referring to BAM in the Dáil and that BAM has made and continues to make a significant contribution to Ireland, including in the context of the New Children’s Hospital, where BAM is in full compliance with all its obligations.

"BAM will continue its commitment to the New Children’s Hospital and the confidence of all parties involved is a vital requirement for the company.

"BAM wishes to advise the hospital board that if it would prefer to opt out of this contract and procure the work in some other way, then BAM will cooperate with them to facilitate this option”, said Theo Cullinane, CEO BAM Ireland and member of the Management Board of Royal BAM Group."

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