Senior civil servant questioned at Oireachtas committee over hospital costs

Robert Watt attending the PAC today. Photo via Oireachtas TV.

The Department of Public Expenditure and Reform's top civil servant is being questioned by TDs and Senators today on cost overruns at the National Children's Hospital.

Secretary General Robert Watt will attend two hearings, beginning with the Public Accounts Committee this morning, followed by the Finance Committee in the afternoon.

Mr Watt is discussing his department's role in the spiralling costs at the children's hospital, with recent figures from the Health Minister putting the final price tag at €1.7bn after it was originally expected to cost €450m.

However, in an 18-page opening statement, Mr Watt made no reference to the hospital.

He has been accused by Fianna Fail's Marc Mac Sharry of giving two fingers to the Public Accounts Committee.

"All we have is an 18-page document from the chief officer responsible for this committee who manages not to mention the National Children's Hospital once.

"That is a Harvey Smith to this committee, the two fingers, we'do what we want, when we want."

You can watch the PAC meeting live here:

Meanwhile, it was revealed yesterday that the State's chief procurement officer has refused to attend the Dail's public accounts committee on the scandal today despite a formal request to do so.

Mr Quinn was a "public interest" representative on the children's hospital board while the budget crisis was mounting.

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