‘The Job Of The Minister’

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RTÉ’s Caitriona Perry and Minister for Health Simon Harris on RTÉ’s Six One last night

Last night.

On RTÉ’s Six One.

Caitriona Perry interviewed the Minister for Health Simon Harris about the overrun at the National Children’s Hospital.

She pointed out he first learned about the cost overrun last August, the scale of the overrun last November November and that he won’t take any action until he receives a €450,000 report from PwC which is due to be finished by March of this year.

They had the following exchange:

Caitriona Perry: “Is that good enough or did you take your eye off the ball here?”

Simon Harris: “No, of course, I should be held accountable for the decision that I made when I advised the Government that we needed to proceed with this project.”

Later

Perry: “…It’s such an important project, you said yourself there for the children of this country. Why did it take from August until November for you to find out about the scale of the overruns?”

Harris: “So at the end of August, it became apparent that there was going to be a significant overrun but my department, as indeed as a Government minister, we did what we’re actually meant to do. We did due diligence. There were a number of expert reports commissioned. And ultimately the body that’s responsible for delivering the hospital – the National Paediatric Hospital Development Board – came back on the 9th of November with the scale of the overrun being clear.”

Perry:Should you not have been demanding, day in day out, that someone tell you just how much this project was going over by?”

Harris: “I was very determined and confident that we had professionals in place to deliver this project. The board delivering the project is a ‘who’s who’ when it comes to construction and procurement issues. So I think actually the job of the minister is to put people in place, who have the professional skills to deliver a project.

It’s also the job of a minister then, when challenges emerge, to make tough decisions. And the decision to proceed with this project was a tough one because of the scale of the cost. But I have no doubt the only decision I would have regretted was if I didn’t proceed with it.”

Mr Harris went on to say that he and his department were “seeking constant updates” while his Secretary General [Jim Breslin] is chairing a steering group on the matter – the Children’s Hospital Project and Programme steering group.

Watch back in full here

Meanwhile…

Illustration by Gary Reddin, from Sligo.

Gary Reddin (Facebook)

Previously: Gary Reddin on Broadsheet

Thanks Gary

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19 thoughts on “‘The Job Of The Minister’

  1. Eoin

    “There were a number of expert reports commissioned” last August in response to concerns about the cost? Really? First we’ve heard about these. And, six months later, have any of these “expert reports” been completed and what do they say? Why do we need another expert report now from PwC costing €450,000? Where is the Comptroller and Auditor General in all of this?

  2. Ian-O

    Why do we even bother with this theatre?

    Nobody will be found accountable, nobody will be sacked, only those disgusted with this carry on will resign, but it will not be anyone who is at fault.

    Nobody, outside of the tax payer as usual, will lose out.

    Nobody will pay back any monies already received.

    It will probably end up costing closer to 3 billion and we will find ourselves in a similar situation in a few years time with some other issue after we have spent another fortune on a tribunal on this one so it can sit, along with so many others, on a dusty shelf while hands are wrung about ‘learning from mistakes’. Then we can repeat all this and have another tribunal after that, rinse, repeat.

    Its quite despairing.

    1. Otis Blue

      Paul Quinn appears to be mute on the issue.

      Paul Quinn?

      “He’s the Government’s Chief Procurement Officer and is tasked with delivering procurement reform across the public service, supporting compliant and value for money procurement. Paul is also head of the Office of Government Procurement (OGP) which brings together public procurement policy, strategy, and operations. The OGP commenced operations in 2014 and has put in place 150 framework agreements for its public sector clients. Paul holds an MBA, a Degree in Engineering and Diplomas in Company Direction and Accounting & Finance. He is a member of the Development Board for the New Children’s Hospital at St. James’ Hospital and chairs its finance committee”

      http://www.newchildrenshospital.ie/the-project/national-paediatric-hospital-development-board/

      Theres a reason why we consistently reward failure and mediocrity. And nothing will change.

      Up next: the National Broadband Plan*

      * If this is to proceed expect more shenanigans and worse. Another cash cow for the great and good. TBH, I expect the NBP to be abandoned, if only because we need the cash to pay for the NCH. Fun, either way

    1. anthony

      Look up BAMs web site and look into new projects which are costed then read all the stuff about procurements etc
      I smell a massive rat

  3. GiggidyGoo

    His answers just didn’t cut it. Ducking and diving. Diverting. Running. “Touching cloth” would be a term that comes to mind, as in having a dire need to have a poo.

  4. anthony

    Makeup can be used to create many illusions
    This minister is on the ropes and as we all know they have all been to the terry chrones sorry terry prones school of pr

  5. Blonto

    Cost over runs due to thieving contractors, ineffective contracts, backhanders, brown envelopes and robbery.
    Go after the contractors and whoever signed off on the cost overruns.
    We’ll got one hospital at the end of all this. But the money will have to be clawed back somewhere else. So expect half the wards to be closed.

      1. Termagant

        Sure didn’t I see one of them the other day coming out with an entire wing of a hospital hidden under her jumper

  6. johnny

    Hatchet job by the health hack at Indo-breahless reporting by Eilish O’Regan-he resigned !

    “The chairman of the board overseeing the development of the new national children’s hospital was given salary top-ups totalling €56,000 over two years.
    Tom Costello, a former managing director of John Sisk and Son, was paid an extra €28,140 annually in 2014 and 2015, bringing his salary to €40,100 a year. The exceptional payment was sanctioned by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform.”

    28 grand a year for 40 grand doesn’t have same impact,so use a two year number-like who ever uses two years as a metric,except O’Regan !

    You guys are getting ‘gaslit’ (gaslighting) by O’Brien and INM-the BIGGER failure this is,it provides an excuse for NOT building housing-oh look at the MOST expensive hospital in the world….
    Better off letting private developers build it, the state cant build etc,this project was designed to fail.
    There is no reason for a private hospital (The Beacon),owned by Dennis O’Brien to have a rep on this board, none.

    https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/health/childrens-hospital-chairman-got-a-56000-salary-topup-35425995.html

  7. :-Joe

    As others have pointed out, nothing will happen… nothing new to see here.. move along..

    Harris has admitted he made the decision to continue in spite of and so he should be sacked.
    Another politician who is long overdue is Varadker your(not mine) undemocratically elected Taoiseach.

    If you want this to stop then protest and hold your representatives to account. If you don’t want these beige psychadelic facist middle-managers making decisions on your behalf then maybe you shouldn’t vote for them in the first place!?!

    Vote for local honest decent hard working independant candidates and force the ff/fg establishment for private foreign global corporate financial interests party into the same corner together as the one party they already are.

    It will allow a healthy opposition to grow to challenge them and create the balance of democracy that is needed for Irish society. If you voted for ff/fg then this and most of the perpetual ff/fg government failings are all your fault too.

    Shame on you and your ignorance…

    :-J

  8. Gabby

    Don’t we like scandals and absurdities? Don’t we just love financial sagas we can do nothing about? Don’t we go gaga commemorating the First Dail held in the Round Room of the Mansion House in 1919? Aren’t we so better off than China and Russia in having a fearless free press that can go to town on covering running sores in our body politic? Aren’t we the happiest little democracy in the world?

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