The Minister for Finance has insisted that none of the Government’s capital spending projects will be cancelled or delayed as a result of the cost overruns at the National Children's Hospital.
Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe has had to find an extra €99m to fund the cost overruns for this year alone.
It is now believed the project will cost at least €1.7bn. This afternoon, the Health Minister Simon Harris apologised to the Dáil for failing to provide full information about the cost overruns when directly questioned about it.
In an exclusive interview with Newstalk’s Sean Defoe, Minister Donohoe said the key projects that the government has committed to “will be going ahead.”
“When we are managing a very, very big capital budget with lots of different projects, there can sometimes be delays. Things can sometimes go differently to how we would hope.
“But I am very, very clear that they will not be a result of anything that happened with the National Children's Hospital.”
Some €24m will be taken from this year’s health capital budget to fund the overruns.
The other €75m will be found by “reallocating" funds from a range of other capital projects.
Minister Donohoe insisted that the State’s capital programme and health budget are so vast that “key commitments that we have on projects across the country will not be affected by what is happening with the National Children’s Hospital.”
“Any individual projects that communities have that they want to see happen; if there are any delays they will not be a result of what has happened with the National children’s Hospital,” he said.
“Key projects that we have already committed to with communities will be going ahead and by making the decision where other government departments are making funding available in order to ensure that the Department of Health does not bear the entire cost for this is getting us to a place that I am confident that key commitments that we have we will honour.”
The €75m reallocated from other projects includes:
- Re-scheduling of €27m arising in relation to the A5 Motorway in Northern Ireland;
- Re-scheduling of €10m arising in relation to the National Forensic Science Laboratory;
- Advance payment of a sum of €10m from the Department of Education and Skills in respect of higher education facilities at the National Children’s Hospital;
- An updating of the scheduled draw-down of €16m from the two Project Ireland 2040 Regeneration Funds, which are being profiled for expenditure throughout the course of both 2019 and 2020 without delays in project planning, design and delivery;
- Re-profiling of payments of €4m under certain programmes of investment in Communications, Climate Action & Environment;
- €3m from the re-profiling of investment under the Flood Risk Management Programme of the Office of Public Works to allow for capacity to be built up over the course of the NDP period;
- Revision of the schedule of drawdown of funding in the PER and Finance Groups of Votes totalling €3m; and
- €2m through changes to the timing of payments relating to certain capital works by the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, with full project delivery scheduled across both 2019 and 2020.
Minister Donohoe said the €10m from the Department of Education will not have a knock-on effect on any other education projects.
He said the €16m taken from two Project Ireland 2040 Regeneration Funds would see the funds “making decisions a little bit later in the year” than planned.
“We are fully committed to that process. We are fully committed to all of these funds and they will be absolutely going ahead.
“They are all brand new money. This is something we have never done before but because it is a new process and a new way of Government trying to do its business; it just means that this work will be happening later in the year.”
He said flood relief projects “tend to be delayed” as a result of planning objections – and the €3m taken from the Flood Risk Management Programme would have been made available to the Government later in the year regardless of what happened with the hospital.
“I am simply saying now that we are identifying those savings now and we are going to use them now to deal with the additional cost of the children’s hospital,” he said.
He said the Government remains “completely committed to delivering all of the additional projects in health and elsewhere that we have committed to as part of Ireland 2040.”