Fianna Fáil Health Spokesperson Billy Kelleher TD has responded to comments from Health Minister Leo Varadkar where he claims that the Government has not budgeted to equip the National Children’s Hospital and raises a question mark over the project going ahead at all.
In correspondence seen by The Irish Times, Minister Varadkar tells Public Expenditure Minister Brendan Howlin that he does not have a budget to equip the hospital and says, ““If it is decided to cancel the new children’s hospital […] we should do so sooner rather than later…”
Deputy Kelleher commented, “These claims by the Health Minister are extraordinary and give a very worrying insight into what is going on in Government Buildings.
“It seems to me that only two explanations of these comments are possible. Either Minister Varadkar has discovered that his predecessor’s budget planning for the Children’s Hospital was woefully inadequate and the project is now genuinely under threat. Or, he is fighting for extra funding and has taken to threatening his coalition colleague in writing. In either case, what this correspondence shows is a growing and worrying level of dysfunction at the highest levels in the Coalition.
“However, the failing political relationships in Government are of secondary interest. What we need to hear today is a clear statement from Government on the progress of the Children’s Hospital and confirmation that an adequate budget has been assigned.
“We were told by the Government, in a series of high profile media events, that the project was on track and that money was being ring fenced. Leo Varadkar’s comments appear to flatly contradict these assurances from his colleagues. We need to hear from the Minister today.”