“On this issue in particular but in so many other areas, it is clear that the Minister for Health has lost control of his department.”

Social Democrats co-leader Róisín Shortall TD said it is incredulous that the Taoiseach today continues to express confidence in the Minister for Health in the wake of last night’s revelations about when he knew of the looming costs overruns with the National Children’s Hospital.

Deputy Shortall said:

“The Minister for Health has dissembled and fudged on this issue for weeks now, insisting that his Department wasn’t aware of the looming cost overrun until November 2018. Yet last night’s publication of an official memo from his department shows that the Minister was aware as far back as last August that the National Children’s Hospital faced a potential €391million overrun.

“Instead of reacting promptly and prudently to flag this problem with the Taoiseach and Minister for Finance ahead of last year’s Budget, Minister Harris dithered for an entire two months. We are told that he only informed his cabinet colleagues of the runaway costs on November 9th. On this issue in particular but in so many other areas, it is clear that the Minister has lost control of his department.

“It is incredulous that the Taoiseach this morning continues to express confidence in a Minister whose position is clearly untenable. The Taoiseach is also downplaying the impact on Budget 2019 of this massive cost overrun. But the reality is that both the capital budget and general health spending will take a massive hit as a result of such appalling mis-management of this critically important hospital project.

“The Social Democrats will certainly support any Dáil no-confidence motion in the Minister – and it is incumbent on Fianna Fáil to do the same.”

ENDS

8th February 2019