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19.21 5 Feb 2019


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Updated 20:20

The new terms of reference for the investigation into the overruns at the National Children's Hospital will aim to find accountability from key parties.

It's after it emerged that the independent investigation was initially told not to find individuals culpable.

New terms of reference have been issued. saying the review should be done by March 29th if the investigation can gain access to appropriate personnel and documents.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar earlier said people need to remember how important it is that the hospital is built.

He told deputies in the Dáil: "This is an enormous asset and something that children need - I'm very disturbed to hear people in the Opposition suggesting this project should be suspended."

Meanwhile, the Health Minister has confirmed that he plans to appoint Fred Barry - a former chairperson of the National Roads Authority - as the chair of the board overseeing the new hospital project.

The previous chair of the National Paediatric Hospital Development Board, Tom Costello, stepped down over the weekend - saying it was due to concerns about "reputational damage" that the ongoing commentary about the increased cost of the national children's hospital is causing.

In a statement this evening, Simon Harris said: "I want to thank Mr Barry for taking up this role. The National Children's Hospital is the most significant investment in children's healthcare in this country."

"Mr Barry's experience and leadership will be invaluable to ensuring the next phase of this project is delivered for future generations."

"Celtic Tiger attitude to overspending"

It comes as the Government continues to face criticism over the spiralling cost of the hospital project.

Labour leader Brendan Howlin said the approach to the overspend harks back to the mistakes of the past.

Speaking in the Dáil, he argued: "This Fine Gael Government seems to have adopted a Celtic Tiger attitude to overspending.

"Just 10 months after telling us the cost of the National Children's Hospital on the St James's site was to be €938m, Fine Gael is now telling us the final cost could be €1.73bn or more - nearly double the previous cost."

Earlier, Fianna Fáil TD Barry Cowen said the Government would be gone if it wasn't for Brexit.

Referencing other health sector crises such as the nurses' strike and the CervicalCheck controversy, his party colleague Stephen Donnelly added: "I'd say you'd be hard-pressed to find anyone in Ireland who has confidence in this Government when it comes to healthcare."

The new National Children's Hospital is being built on the campus of St James's Hospital in Dublin, with the facility expected to open in 2022.

Additional reporting by Stephen McNeice


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