News & Media

Health Confidence & Supply Materials and Capital Plan documents must be released

8 February 2019

Statement by Alan Kelly TD
Spokesperson on Health

Labour Health spokesperson Alan Kelly TD reacting to the latest developments in the National Children’s Hospital scandal has called for the Minister for Public Expenditure to make a statement on the role of the Chief Procurement Officer, and for the comprehensive release of a series of documents including:

All briefings prepared and presented by the Department of Health to Fianna Fáil

Copies of the correspondence between the Minister for Health and the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform on the Health capital plan in 2018.

The detail of the financial allocations for capital projects in Health as agreed at Budget 2019 as part of the estimates process.

Minutes of the National Paediatric Hospital Development Board.

The Risk Register that was carried out for the National Children’s Hospital.

Deputy Kelly said:

“It is inconceivable that Fianna Fáil spent the last quarter of 2018 negotiating the budget, and in talks to extend confidence and supply with Fine Gael, and didn’t receive information on the Health capital budget and the National Children’s Hospital. We have yet to hear from any of those Fianna Fáil TD’s directly involved in those talks as to what they knew and what they were told.

“I am calling now for the release of all the Department of Health documents, briefings, memos and presentations provided to Fianna Fáil as part of those talks, including minutes of the meetings. Public officials provided those briefings, we should now see what politicians were told. The Department of Public Expenditure and Reform should do the same.

“Secondly, it was reported in the Irish Times on 15th September that Minister Harris wrote to Minister for Public Expenditure Paschal Donohue around May 2018 regarding his concerns about the health capital plan, and the need to bring forward €1 billion in health spending from the later years of the plan.

“Those letters on the health capital plan specifically mention the National Children’s Hospital, according to that report. The letter and the response must now be published.

“It is also time now for Minister Paschal Donohoe to make a statement on the role his official, the Chief Procurement Officer, Paul Quinn played in all of this. It is no longer feasible for Minister Donohoe to say he was acting in a private capacity. We know from the document released last night that efforts were made to inform his Department of this overrun. A sper the circular published in 2010, he should have been reporting issues to the Minister. It seems now that a blind eye was being turned when it came to this project and we need to hear from the Minister as to why this was the case.

“Finally, as part of Budget 2019, €667 million in capital expenditure was allocated to the Department of Health. This was no additional increase on the proposed multiyear allocation for 2019, as outlined in Budget 2018. The Department should now come clean with the detail of where that money was allocated and to what projects in autumn last year. We also need immediate clarification on what projects the €50 million to cover the NCH overspend has been pulled from.

“The Government and the relevant Ministers need to come clean on all that was known. We need to see the correspondence.

“Fianna Fáil has given Fine Gael a blank cheque on this scandal. If we are to believe their protests that they knew nothing we need to see these documents.

“And if we are to believe that the Department of Public Expenditure didn’t know about the hospital overspend we need to see those letters of correspondence between the two Ministers.

“Finally the public need to know what projects are being delayed or cancelled. The Taoiseach has called this a red herring but he is deliberately trying to distract from his Government’s disastrous management of capital spending. An extra €100m now has to be pulled to cover the shortfall that would have paid for other much needed works.

"And we still lack key documents related to how the overspend arose on the Hospital project in the first place. I want to see the board meeting minutes published, and a copy of the risk register."

NOTES - Irish Times report here:

https://www.irishtimes.com/news/ireland/irish-news/harris-sought-nearly-1bn-in-health-capital-funding-to-be-brought-forward-1.3629701