Children’s hospital: procurement chief resigns from board

Paul Quinn is latest senior official to leave board, with project expected to cost €1.7bn

National Children’s Hospital: the total bill  is now expected to exceed €1.7 billion. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill

National Children’s Hospital: the total bill is now expected to exceed €1.7 billion. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill

 

The State’s chief procurement officer has resigned from the development board of the new children’s hospital, a project which has been beset with controversies over substantial cost overruns.

The cost of building the new children’s hospital on the site of St James’s Hospital in Dublin increased from €987 million in 2017 to over €1.4 billion. The total bill is expected to be more than €1.7 billion when other costs are included but the total cost has not yet been finalised.

Paul Quinn is the State’s chief procurement officer, a role tasked with securing value for money reforms in the use of private contractors by public bodies.

He sat on the new children’s hospital board and was the chair of its finance subcommittee, but has resigned in recent weeks.

Board minutes from a meeting on August 7th noted the senior civil servant’s resignation from the hospital board.

The board “expressed their gratitude for his service and contribution to the board and the project,” the minutes said.

Mr Quinn is the latest senior figure to step down from the board, amid major political backlash over the controversial cost overruns earlier this year.

Other previous resignations to hit the hospital project included the chairman of the board, Tom Costello, and the project director, John Pollock. The officials in charge of the project came under sustained political criticism over the failure to flag the serious cost increases.

As a senior civil servant Mr Quinn is obliged to pass on concerns about the rising costs of the project to the relevant Government minister, if he felt the hospital board was not addressing them, according to the Comptroller and Auditor General.

Seamus McCarthy, Comptroller and Auditor General, previously told the Dáil Public Accounts Committee Mr Quinn was bound by a circular which states that information should be presented to the Minister where there are serious weaknesses in controls that have not been addressed, or where there is a risk of reputational damage to the body.