National Children's Hospital unlikely to be ready before 2024

ireland
National Children's Hospital Unlikely To Be Ready Before 2024 National Children's Hospital Unlikely To Be Ready Before 2024
The construction site at the National Children’s Hospital in Dublin. Photo: PA
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Digital Desk Staff

The National Children’s Hospital project in Dublin is unlikely to be ready before 2024, the Oireachtas Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has heard.

As the Irish Examiner reports, speaking at this afternoon’s PAC hearing, chair of the National Paediatric Health Development Board (NPHDB) David Gunning spoke in stark terms of the difficulties that the board has experienced, in its view, while dealing with the principal contractor on the €1.7bn budgeted project BAM.

Mr Gunning said that the “lack of advancement” in the project is attributable due to “under-resourcing on the project by the main contractor”.

That is “a situation that has been in place since the beginning and which continues today”, he said.

He said that at the end of 2019, the project had progressed 8.5 per cent through its construction plan when it should have progressed 22 per cent.

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"This delay has continued to grow month on month," he added.

BAM has been contacted for comment but had not replied at the time of publication.

Under questioning from Sinn Féin’s Imelda Munster, Mr Gunning said at the beginning of the Covid pandemic, the project was five months behind schedule. It is now 10 months behind, he said.

Definitive date

Asked by both Ms Munster and Fianna Fáil’s Marc MacSharry when the most likely completion date is at present, he acknowledged that May 2024 is a realistic end date.

“When you add it all up that’s the obvious conclusion,” he said, adding that a more definitive date will be delivered in due course following consultation between the board and the Department of Health.

More than €300m in additional claims have been received from the contractor, he said, with the board defending each of those “robustly”.

“While the contractor has been underperforming as regards project execution, it has been extremely assertive as regards claims,” Mr Gunning said.

Some 100 such claims have been lodged since November of last year.

Mr Gunning said that at present the board is withholding 15 per cent of its contracted monthly payments to BAM given the project updates received from the contractor are not in line with the contract.

“This is one of the levers permitted to us under the contract to incentivise the contractor to deliver on its contractual obligations,” he said.

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