Donohoe: Spending ‘re-profiling’ won’t delay major projects

Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe has continued to claim that “no major projects will be delayed” and no promised services will be cut due to the children’s hospital financial black hole, despite opposition anger over €99m in spending “re-profiling”.

Mr Donohoe denied the Government will be forced to cut back on a series of planned measures as he again accepted partial blame for what happened and admitted: “We have had a very big issue with this project”.

Speaking on RTÉ Radio’s Morning Ireland programme before he and Health Minister Simon Harris were forced to answer Dáil questions over the crisis last night, Mr Donohoe said there are genuine problems over what happened.

However, asked about the Government’s claim it will be able to reduce this year’s capital projects budget by €99m — a move opposition parties have insisted is a cut — Mr Donohoe claimed “no major projects will be delayed”.

The comment has led to fresh calls from opposition parties for the Government to explain in detail where exactly the funding changes will occur, after concerns were raised over the lack of detail when the cuts were announced on Tuesday.

Under the Government plans:

  • The Department of Finance will lose €27m due to delayed spending on the A5 Dublin to Derry motorway;
  • The Department of Health will lose €24m for “smaller capital projects and repairs” in hospitals;
  • €10m will be “saved” from the “re-scheduling” of work on the national forensic science lab;
  • €16m from delaying some Project Ireland 2040 plans;
  • and €4m from a “re-profiling” of some Department of Communications projects.

A spokesperson for Health Minister Simon Harris said the €24m health cut will not affect services as it will be taken from an existing fund for repairs and other works which is used on a rolling basis and has not yet been allocated.

However, opposition TDs including Labour’s Alan Kelly and Sinn Féin’s Louise O’Reilly are likely to highlight their concerns again at the weekly Dáil Public Accounts Committee meeting this morning, with PAC chair and Fianna Fáil TD Sean Fleming warning that the children’s hospital “debacle” was caused by Government being focussed on “spin” instead of taxpayer needs.

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