Dublin South West Sinn Féin TD, Seán Crowe, has described the Minister for Finance, Pascal Donohoe’s, promise of new procurement legislation to prevent capital overruns as a cynical attempt to deflect attention from his Government’s ineptitude in managing taxpayers’ money when it comes to the National Children’s Hospital.
The Sinn Féin TD was speaking after his party announced it is a moving a motion of no confidence in the Minister for Health, Simon Harris.
Deputy Seán Crowe said:
“Minister Donohoe’s plan for new legislation or proposals to prevent future overruns in capital projects is a predictably cynical move to deflect from this Government’s failure to govern, particularly the incompetency of Minister Harris.
“The current procurement fiasco that has resulted in the costs of the National Children’s Hospital to escalate by over €450 million is not primarily due to any failure or deficiency in procurement legislation or guidelines. This scandal has resulted from this Government’s mismanagement of one of the biggest capital health projects the taxpayer has paid for in recent memory.
“All of the warning signs were there of a dangerous escalation in costs. Warnings were sounded to the Development Board and Steering Group of the hospital, and top officials from both the Departments of Health, and Public Expenditure and Reform, were present.
“Despite this, both Ministers Harris and Donohue, like the proverbial rabbits caught in the headlights, failed to move or take any remedial actions. It is unacceptable that the Irish taxpayers are being left to clear up and pay for the mess.
“The Department of Public Expenditure and Reform is obliged to review and track major capital projects continually, while the Department of Health is required to update it on the progress of capital projects and spending plans. Why did this not happen?
“To claim it was the result of gaps or failures in legislation or the process is to immediately undermine the upcoming review into the cost overrun and to dilute the fundamental issue of individual responsibility.
“The fault for that does not rest with imaginary defects in legislation, but with the Ministers concerned and their failure to govern. Minister Harris’ position is completely untenable.
“Any effort to deflect from this failure of governance must be called out for what it is, pure spin and deflection. An apology in the Dáil is no substitute for accountability. Fianna Fáil must stop protecting the Fine Gael Minister for Health. They should support the Sinn Féin motion of no confidence in Minister Harris.
“This was not a systems failure. It was a failure of Government to do its job and govern properly. There needs to be political accountability.”