Controversial Spanish firm wins deal to build Irish hospital

HSE selects scandal-linked OHL to work on the €125m Forensic Hospital...

Controversial Spanish firm wins deal to build Irish hospital

A Spanish construction company tied to a major political scandal in its home country is set to build the new National Forensics Mental Health Services Hospital in North Dublin, according to the Irish Independent.

The HSE has selected OHL, which is active in 30 markets, to partner with Irish builder JJ Rhatigan in delivering the new €125 million hospital in Portrane. The contracts for the deal have yet to be signed but the HSE has confirmed the joint proposal from OHL and Rhatigan is the preferred bidder.

OHL was one of a number of construction companies named last year in a Spanish investigation into alleged illicit activity in how large government infrastructure projects were awarded.

The so-called Gürtel case is currently aiming to identify who made payments to a slush fund run by Luis Bárcenas, former treasurer of Spain's ruling centre-right People's Party (PP).

Mr Bárcenas claimed that this money was used to pay senior party figures, including current prime minister Mariana Rajoy.

Francisco Correa, who allegedly acted as a go-between, testified that OHL had paid for his services to help secure major public projects.

OHL has denied these allegations and is taking legal action against Mr Correa.

A Spanish judge ordered searches of the homes and offices of OHL director Javier Lopez last February as part of an anti-corruption operation.

Fine Gael TD Alan Farrell described the Portrane project as an "essential component of our national health system" last year.

The Irish Independent understands that the National Forensics Mental Health Services Hospital contract is the first of many that OHL is seeking in Ireland. Reports in the Spanish media suggest that it also has tenders prepared for the new National Rehabilitation Hospital and satellite centres for the new National Children's Hospital.