Image: Fianna Fáil's Marc MacSharry at the PAC today. Image: Oireachtas TV
The Secretary General of the Department of Public Expenditure has been accused of giving two fingers to the Public Accounts Committee.
Robert Watt is appearing before the Committee this morning to discuss a number of government financed projects, including the National Children's Hospital.
However, in an 18-page opening statement Mr Watt makes no reference to the hospital - which is now expected to cost around €1.7billion.
Members of the committee also sharply criticised the fact that chief procurement officer Paul Quinn would not be attending today's hearing.
Fianna Fáil's Marc MacSharry accused Mr Watt of disrespecting the committee.
He said: "All we have is an 18-page document [that] manages not to mention the National Children's Hospital once.
"That is Harvey Smith to this committee, the two fingers: we'll do what we want, when we want."
'Control the mob'
Meanwhile, Mr Watt was quizzed on a report that he said PAC chairman Sean Fleming needs to 'control the mob' - apparently referring to members of the committee.
This is the view Mr Fleming is now giving to the committee. At the end of that private discussion, in the lobby outside the PAC room, Mr Watt returned to his own officials and was heard to say "he [Mr Fleming] has to control the mob".
— Fiachra Ó Cionnaith 😷 (@Ocionnaith) March 7, 2019
When asked about the quote, Mr Watt responded: "I don't know what I said - if I said anything that offended anybody, apologies for that.
"I don't recall saying it, to be honest.
"If I did say it, it's a colloquial expression - it's not in anyway to be demeaning of anyone."
Separately, Mr Watt said the tender process for the National Children's Hospital was 'risky for the state'.
The lead civil servant in the Department of Public Expenditure said no future capital projects will go ahead without certainty over the price before the tender is awarded.