The Government has pulled a 180 today, as Leo Varadkar has confirmed that the terms of reference of the inquiry into the overruns in the construction costs of the National Children’s Hospital will be revised to allow individuals be held accountable. Taoiseach Varadkar said they will be revised "to enable PWC to find individuals accountable or to identify individuals who made particular mistakes, if that’s what they find."
An Taoiseach was speaking on RTÉ’s 'This Week', when he said the review by consultancy firm Price Waterhouse Cooper (PwC) will be given the scope to identify people who may have made particular mistakes which may have led to overruns in the construction costs.
Varadkar said: "We’ve looked at the terms of reference and the terms of reference will be revised to enable PwC to find individuals accountable or to identify individuals who made particular mistakes if that’s what they find." He continued to explain: "Having considered it and having talked about it with the Minister for Health we’re making revisions to the terms of reference to enable the investigation to find individuals accountable if they’re able to do that."
On Friday, Minister for Health, Simon Harris, said that the review wouldn’t be permitted to assign or suggest blame to any specific individual involved with the hospital build: "stop short of determining culpability at the individual level". And on Saturday, Tom Costello, chairman of the Children Hospital's Development Board, tendered his resignation to Minister Harris, which was accepted.
€983-million for the development of the national Children's Hospital was signed-off-on by Government in 2017, however, that figure is a mere memory now. The development project has been the rightful subject of controversy since news broke that the cost of building the new Children's Hospital had risen from €983-million to more than €1.4-billion, with a further €300-million expected to be expended equipping the hospital with ICT equipment.
On Thursday of this week, following significant speculation, the Public Accounts Committee in Leinster House heard it was “highly unlikely” that the total cost of the project would come in under €2-billion, more than double the amount approved by government. The rises in the cost of delivering the Children's Hospital has been met with significant public anger. Mr Varadkar says the public “were right to be angry”.