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16th Feb 2019

“No going back” on National Children’s Hospital project – Simon Harris

Dave Hanratty

Simon Harris children's hospital

The Minister for Health also noted that protestors followed his wife and child to their home before last Sunday’s demonstration.

Minister for Health Simon Harris has indicated that the government will not be re-tendering for the building of the National Children’s Hospital.

In conversation on Saturday’s edition of The Marian Finucane Show on RTÉ Radio 1, Harris reflected on a difficult week that saw protesters gather at his home followed by the tabling of a motion of no-confidence by Sinn Féin.

Opposition towards the Minister concerns his role in the building of the National Children’s Hospital, a project that has significantly overrun in costs.

It recently emerged that Harris was aware of the overspending as early as August of last year.

On Tuesday, he apologised in Dáil Éireann.

“I take the need for accountability very seriously,” Harris said.

“I account for my actions and decisions, and I will ensure others are held to account for theirs. But I hope we can find a way to unite around our common goal to complete this vital project.”

Speaking with guest presenter Brendan O’Connor on Saturday, Harris said that there can be “no going back” on the National Children’s Hospital project.

He also urged everyone to continue to do what they had signed up to do, “which is to build the hospital that children so desperately need.”

Asked about a statement from BAM – the contractor behind the hospital – in which the company said it had written to the Taoiseach seeking clarification on comments he made in the Dáil on Tuesday, Harris responded:

“The Taoiseach made very clear in his statement that he wasn’t talking about any particular company and the record of the Dáil shows that.

“No one is blaming anyone here. What people are saying, including the Taoiseach, if there is an inquiry, can we let it look into the issues and see where it brings us.”

Harris added that he does not believe the Taoiseach needs to provide any further clarification on his comments adding the government would follow the evidence in relation to the PwC report.

“You don’t ask a group of auditors to go in and look at a thing and then start putting out caveats and apologies in advance of it,” he offered.

Elsewhere on the programme, the Minister confirmed that his wife and newborn child had been “followed” home last Sunday by protestors, condemning their actions as a “violation, intimidation and thuggery.”

He noted that he hasn’t considered resigning from his position while expressing guilt for the effect that his role can have on family life and suggested that the protests were fuelled by the general “tone of public discourse” which he said “dehumanised politicians.”

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