The new National Children's Hospital project is now a 'runaway train', Róisín Shortall has claimed.
The Social Democrats co-leader has expressed frustration at the lack of answers 'to the most basic questions' from the hospital's development board.
At a meeting today, the Oireachtas Health Committee heard from the National Paediatric Hospital Development Board (NPHDB) that there's "no expectation" the project will be completed by the deadline of August 2022.
The board said a new estimated completion date is not expected until early next year.
It's also emerged the main contractor has submitted hundreds of claims for extra costs worth over €200 million.
Contractor BAM has defended their work, saying they remain committed to finishing the project as 'quickly and efficiently as possible'
Speaking on The Hard Shoulder, Deputy Shortall said today's committee meeting was 'extremely disappointing'.
She said: "We were in a situation where we were expecting an update and ideally a progress report... and really it was highly unsatisfactory, the exchange that we had with the development board.
"At this stage, the expectation was that the development board would have had a handle on things and would have been clear about where we go from here... and the expected completion date and indeed an estimate of the overall cost. They weren't able to provide that today at all."
She said it's "incredible" that the board has no clear picture of the timescale they are working to.
The Social Democrats TD said it's clear the pandemic has had an impact on the project, but it was already running several months late before lockdown in March.
She said: "There were then disputes about when the building was supposed to start back on site after things opened up. There was two periods of seven-weeks delay.
"It's just unbelievable... this is a runaway train.
"Certainly there are questions for the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, in terms of their failure to contain this and account for the mistakes they've made in terms of the procurement process."
She argued there needs to be some accountability for 'errors' in the procurement process that have led to substantial additional costs for the €1.4 billion project.
Meanwhile, in a statement this evening BAM said they still haven't received "a fully complete, co-ordinated design for the project".
They say it's 'hardly surprising' there have been hundreds of additional claims for costs, given the extra design costs that have been required throughout the project.
The company said: "Managing the public health guidelines and working restrictions imposed by the COVID-19 situation continues to provide great uncertainty for the project timelines.
"BAM confirms it has no capacity issues in terms of delivering this project.
"We are putting measures in place to get as many workers on site and productivity as high as possible within this context but the sooner that COVID restrictions are eased the better."