Children’s hospital builder says board can opt out of contract

BAM says if hospital board wishes to ‘opt out of contract’ then it will ‘facilitate this option’

During leaders' questions in the Dail on Tuesday 12th February, the Taoiseach made comments on companies submitting low bids, only to raise prices afterwards. Video: Oireachtas TV

 

The builder of the national children’s hospital says it is willing to step down from the construction of the project.

The construction company also hit out at recent commentary which it says is based on “inaccurate information” and says it “did not benefit inappropriately” from the tender process.

The head of BAM Ireland Theo Cullinane said the construction firm has written to Taoiseach Leo Varadkar to “request him to clarify that he was not referring to BAM in the Dáil”.

Mr Varadkar told the Dáil this week the Government would be looking into the potential “low-balling” of tenders whereby a company would submit a low bid for a project with the aim of recouping costs later.

“We also particularly want to look at contractors’ past form and public service references,” Mr Varadkar said on Tuesday.

He added: “there are one or two contractors who, quite frankly, I would not like to see get a public contract again in this State.”

In a statement on Friday Mr Cullinane said if the board of the national children’s hospital wants to opt out of its contract for the building of the hospital, BAM will allow them to do so.

“In recent weeks there have been many adverse comments in relation to the New Children’s Hospital.

“BAM wishes to confirm that it did not benefit inappropriately from the tender process and much of the commentary is based on incomplete and inaccurate information. BAM will fully engage with PwC to ensure all relevant facts are disclosed,” Mr Cullinane said.

Cost

The cost of the project has risen from an estimated €800 million in 2014, to €983 million in 2017, and €1.43 billion now.

Equipping the building and providing IT pushes this bill up to €1.73 billion; this does not include the cost of family accommodation, a research centre, excess construction inflation and any other changes to clinical standards.

The Government has engaged PWC to look into why the cost of the hospital has risen to €1.7 billion.

In a statement Mr Cullinane said: “In response to the Taoiseach’s comments in the Dáil on Tuesday February 12th last, BAM has written to the Taoiseach directly to respectfully request him to clarify that he was not referring to BAM in the Dáil and that BAM has made and continues to make a significant contribution to Ireland, including in the context of the New Children’s Hospital, where BAM is in full compliance with all its obligations.

In response to Mr Cullinane’s comments, a Government spokesman said: “The Taoiseach did not reference any specific company in the Dáil. The Government is not satisfied with several aspects of how the new national children’s hospital project has been delivered.

“There is understandable public concern about the matter. For this reason, PWC has been commissioned to carry out an independent examination. [The Taoiseach] hopes and trusts that all parties and contractors will co-operate fully with it.”

Mr Cullinane also said BAM will continue its commitment to the new children’s hospital and added “the confidence of all parties involved is a vital requirement for the company.”

“BAM wishes to advise the hospital board that if it would prefer to opt out of this contract and procure the work in some other way, then BAM will co-operate with them to facilitate this option”, said Mr Cullinane.