Sir, – I have vague recollections of listening to news reports and arguments in 2006 about the best location for the planned new children’s hospital. At the time I was in my mid-twenties and hadn’t thought seriously yet about having children, so didn’t really consider the story as having an impact on me.
This week I read an update on the same project – that it’s behind schedule and may not open until 2024 (Cormac McQuinn, “Children’s hospital behind schedule and may not open until 2024, Public Accounts Committee hears”, News, February 10th).
By 2024, the two children I did go on to have will be 16 and 14. I’m hoping the new hospital will open some time before they go on to have children! – Yours, etc,
Sir, – Cormac McQuinn reports on the movable feast that is the planned opening date for the national children’s hospital. The current best estimate, according to the development board’s chief executive, is 2024 at the earliest. And, of course, nobody has the vaguest idea as to the likely final cost.
What is it about the delivery of public sector projects? On January 15th, 2019, your editorial “How not to run a project” concluded, with reference to Thornton Hall and the children’s hospital, that “the Government continues to uphold the State’s reputation for botching big infrastructure projects” and suggested that official backside-covering frequently serves to maximise costs and minimise State value.
We didn’t have far to look for a perfect example of the thinking which underpins this waste. In the same day’s paper Ronan McGreevy reported on the refurbishment of Leinster House. The original budget for the work was €8 million but “costs escalated” and attempts by The Irish Times to establish a final estimate for the costs of the work were unsuccessful. The superintendent of the Houses of the Oireachtas claimed to quote Michelangelo: “It will cost what it will cost.”
There we have it. One assumes that these words are framed in the boardroom of every contractor which bids on State contracts.
Is the Minister for Finance and Public Expenditure and Reform still on the pitch? Now that he has concluded negotiations on yet another round of public sector pay increases, perhaps he might turn his mind to this endemic squandering of exchequer funds. – Yours, etc,