Opposition parties call on Coalition to reveal new finish date for children’s hospital

Government figures remain tight-lipped as board mulls over new programme of work for national children’s hospital

Opposition parties have accused the Government of “eroding public confidence” in the new national children’s hospital by failing to reveal the new date for completion of the project.

After months of controversy, the main contractor on the site, BAM, this week told the National Paediatric Hospital Development Board (NPHDB) when they expect to have the project finished. The Irish Times revealed earlier this week that board members fear the final date for completion will slip beyond May 2024.

Despite receiving the updated programme of work, and projected new completion date, a spokeswoman said the board will not be revealing what they have been told by BAM, the main contractor, for up to three months.

“An updated programme has been delivered by BAM to the NPHDB. Due to the level of complexity and detail involved with a programme of this nature, it will now be subject to a review by the Employer’s Representative to determine whether or not the programme is compliant.


“This review process could take up to three months to complete. The NPHDB will not be commenting on anything included within that programme, including the proposed substantial completion date, until such time as it is confirmed by the Employer’s Representative that the programme is compliant.”

Opposition parties have called for the new completion date to be made public. Government figures were remaining tight-lipped, however, with speculation in political circles that the project might not be finished until much later in 2024.

“The Minister for Health must make public the new completion date for the national children’s hospital. The Minister cannot sit on the date and keep the public in the dark,” Sinn Féin TD David Cullinane said.

“Minister [Stephen] Donnelly has a responsibility to ensure this hospital is built as quickly as possible and to avoid further additional expenditure. More delays will result in more costs. There is no public good in keeping the completion date secret. This will further erode public confidence in this project.”

Labour leader Ivana Bacik said she is “very concerned to see the continued lack of clarity over the new completion date as it adds to the growing sense of frustration about when we will ever see the long overdue modern facility for children’s healthcare”.

Earlier this week, Sinn Féin said it appeared there is now “open warfare” between the board overseeing the project and the builders. The comment was made after The Irish Times revealed minutes of a meeting last month where board members discussed how BAM said it would not attend meetings if the development board were present, while Kroll, a company brought in to run the rule over the project, was “excluded” from the site for six weeks.

Kroll is one of the world’s leading investigative and intelligence companies, hired to review the works on the site.

The members were given an update on “challenges on site and BAM’s behaviour”.

Examples included: the employer’s representative being told that “BAM will not attend meetings if the NPHDB is in attendance”; that construction company personnel were told “to refrain from interfacing with NPHDB personnel, to include Kroll” who “are carrying out a critical review of the execution of the works”.

Jennifer Bray

Jennifer Bray

Jennifer Bray is a Political Correspondent with The Irish Times