PAC: Senior children's hospital board member legally obliged to inform minister of cost overruns

The PAC heard today that Paul Quinn was obliged to tell Mr Donohoe of the cost overruns when they emerged. Photo: PA

The State's independent financial watchdog has confirmed the senior Department of Public Expenditure official who sat on children's hospital boards was legally obliged to tell Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe of cost problems the moment they emerged.

Comptroller and Auditor General Seamus McCarthy confirmed the situation this morning despite repeated claims by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Mr Donohoe that senior official Paul Quinn's board position was in a "personal capacity".

Speaking during the latest Dáil public accounts committee meeting, Labour health spokesperson Alan Kelly asked Mr McCarthy for his view of a 2010 Government circular saying officials sitting on boards must inform ministers of any issues as they arise.

Asked specifically if the circular related to Mr Quinn and his role on the children's hospital board and a number of sub-committees, Mr McCarthy confirmed this is the case.

And in a comment that is certain to cause fresh problems for the Government, he said this means Mr Quinn was obliged to tell Mr Donohoe of the cost overruns when they emerged months before ministers claim they were told.

"It was a non-commercial State body, and as such the re-iteration of that circular would apply in that case," Mr McCarthy confirmed when asked.

"That's crystal clear," Mr Kelly responded. "Repeatedly the Minister Paschal Donohoe and the Taoiseach said the civil servant was acting in a personal capacity. That we now know is completely and utterly wrong, it is completely and utterly inaccurate.

"We really need to bring this circular to the attention of Minister Paschal Donohoe and the Taoiseach, and ask them to explain," he said.

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