Varadkar on National Children's Hospital - "We will learn the lessons and ensure it does not happen again"
"We are going to finish the job."
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has once again addressed the ongoing row over the construction of the National Children's Hospital.
The hospital was originally set to cost €650 million, but the project has significantly overrun in costs, with the latest estimate around the €1.7 billion mark.
Minister for Health Simon Harris, who was aware of the overspending last August, has declared that there was "no going back" on the project, a stance that has been further reiterated by the head of his party.
Speaking at the Fine Gael National Conference on Saturday, Varadkar accepted responsibility for the "mistakes" made when assessing the overall cost of the hospital, while ensuring that such errors will not occur again.
"I know there has been a lot of focus on the rising cost of the new National Children’s Hospital," he began.
"First of all, I want to say to everyone at home, that we accept responsibility for the mistakes made in projecting the true cost of building this project.
"We cannot claim the credit for things going well if we do not also accept responsibility when things go wrong," the Taoiseach continued.
"And this is one of those occasions.
"I promise you, we will learn the lessons and ensure it does not happen again. But more importantly, now that it’s started, we are going to finish the job.
"Children deserve world-class medical facilities and they’ve been waiting for them for far too long."
Varadkar also spoke of "creating a health service to be proud of", arguing that the Sláintecare program will meet the needs of Irish citizens.
"Through record investment in our health service we will ensure timely access to treatment," he said.
"This year, more operations and procedures are being funded and more outpatients’ appointments will be offered.
"For the first time since 2009 we have over 11,000 hospital beds, and many more planned or under construction."
Elsewhere in his speech, the Taoiseach outlined the government's vision for a post-Brexit Ireland.
As such, he detailed five "key steps" including a strong economy - "one that rewards work, and backs business" - a society "in which no-one feels left out", world class infrastructure in line with Project Ireland 2040, Ireland's continued commitment to the United Nations, and a focus on environmental protection and climate action.