Sinn Féin spokesperson on Health, David Cullinane TD, has described the fact that Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly, failed to hold any formal meetings with the board of the National Children’s Hospital for 15 months as astonishing and a dereliction of duty.
He accused the Minister of being asleep at the wheel and allowing the management and cost of the project to spiral out of control.
Teachta Cullinane said:
“Information I received following a Freedom of Information request shows that there are no records of any formal meetings between Minister Donnelly and the board of the National Children’s Hospital between January 2022 and the first quarter of 2023.
“This represents a complete dereliction of duty, and an appalling lack of leadership for the Minister not to have any oversight of such an important and costly project.
“For several years now, there have been substantial and well-documented concerns regarding delays and the costs of this project spiralling completely out of control, yet the Minister sat on his hands and failed to hold any formal meetings with the board for 15 months.
“The Minister only met the board in July after I and others raised real concerns. We cannot afford to have a Minister for Health who is asleep at the wheel. His hands-off approach is extraordinary and beyond belief.
“The board is seeking significant additional expenditure from government that amounts to hundreds of millions of euro due to cost overruns, yet the cabinet is expected to sign off on that when its Minister for Health is clueless to what is going on.
“The Minister won’t give us the new completion date for the new hospital, which is perhaps no surprise because every single timeframe we have been given by the government on this project has come and gone.
“All we can see – and all taxpayers can see – is more cheques being written, more money being spent, more delays and more cost overruns.
“We need a real completion date, we need a real timeframe and we need to do everything possible to ensure this project is brought back on track.
“To do that, we need the Minister for Health to get off the sidelines and do his job.“