Taoiseach says review into children's hospital will allow for individual accountability

The Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said that an independent review into the overspend at the new national children's hospital will now allow for individuals to be held responsible.

The terms of reference for the independent review of the project revealed this week that the independent review would “stop short of determining culpability at the individual level".

However, Mr Varadkar said today that the terms of reference will be revised to allow for individual accountability.

"This is taxpayers' money and the public are right to be angry," Leo Varadkar said on RTÉ Radio 1's This Week programme.

"We've retained PWC to hold an inquiry into this to figure and explain why the cost increased," he said.

While the Taoiseach did not rule out finding individuals being held responsible, he said it was unlikely that the blame could be placed on one person.

"If there is somebody individually responsible, then absolutely, but as I say we may find some of these costs are unavoidable, I don't think any individual can be held responsible for construction inflation for example," he said.

After speaking with the Minister for Health, we're making that revision to enable the investigation to find individuals responsible if they are able to do that.

The current figure for the cost of the hospital now stands at €1.7bn, with the final price tag having the potential of exceeding €2bn.

The original estimate for the cost of the project, located at St James' Hospital, was €650m.

Mr Varadkar said that the inflated cost of the new national children's hospital may have been "unavoidable due to building inflation".

He said that following the resignation of Tom Costello yesterday as Chair of the National Paediatric Hospital Development Board, what will happen next "will depend on the inquiry".

Mr Costello said that he was concerned that the attention placed on the cost of the hospital was causing "reputational damage" to the project.

Mr Varadkar added he anticipated political rivals would use the overspend to criticise his party.

"I have no doubt that this will be politicised and has been already," he said.

"Let's not forget we set up a dedicated body to deliver this project, they are the ones who have responsibility for it."

Addtional reporting from PA

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