LAST weekend, Minister for Health Simon Harris accepted the resignation of Tom Costello as chairperson of the National Paediatric Hospital Development Board. No doubt, Mr Costello had good intentions regarding the project and worked hard to get the badly-needed new children’s hospital under way despite there being quite justifiable opposition to its cramped city centre location near St James’ Hospital.
Most people from outside of Dublin would have preferred a greenfield site somewhere on the periphery of the capital, perhaps along the M50, however the powers-that-be opted for the current site and are now paying a heavy price with the cost of the project ballooning from the original €650m five years ago to €983m in 2017 then up to €1.4bn in recent months and now the latest estimate is that it could cost as much as €2bn.
Pathetic attempts at trying to explain to the Public Accounts Committee how this happened were just that and made one despair further about how taxpayers’ money is constantly squandered and there never seems to be any proper accountability; if this happened with a private sector project, heads would roll and people would pay.
The massive over-run on the children’s hospital project is bound to affect other health service capital projects by delaying them and it will probably be the same old story of rural Ireland losing out to Dublin yet again.