€3m to be cut from flood relief schemes after children's hospital overrun

Flood relief schemes valued at €3m will be cut and delayed to help pay for the overrun for the national children's hospital, OPW Minister Kevin Boxer Moran has said.

The Finance Committee also heard today that construction costs for the refurbishment of Leinster House-where the Dail and Seanad sit-will exceed the original €15m because of “unforeseen works”.

The developments come amid scrutiny of government spending over the increased costs for the national children's hospital, which has now mounted to over €1.4bn.

Minister Moran is the first to confirm today that he has been asked to cut €3m from his budget. He said it would come from flood relief schemes, which would now be delayed.

“Like any minister, you don't want to implement any cuts but when you are asked to do it, you do it,” he told TDs today.

Schemes would not be axed, promised the Independent Alliance minister, but instead put back by several weeks.

He said the €3m in savings would come out of a €9m fund not yet spent.

“Schemes announced won't be touched,” pledged the minister.

However, Fianna Fail's finance spokesman Michael McGrath warned that savings could not be made to plug the children's hospital costs simply by “staggering” other projects.

Meanwhile, Mr Moran and OPW chairman Maurice Buckley have also confirmed that unplanned works at Leinster House will increase its bill to over €15m. The level of works was “not foreseen,” TDs heard.

Repairing damage to the house's walls, chimneys and ceiling will add to the costs. Works on the 1750s building were always going to be expensive, Mr Buckley added.

Specialist work on the Dublin city centre complex was “costly and time consuming,” the OPW chairman said. Mr Moran and his officials also said the cost of construction has rocketed in recent months.

While there was an official estimate of 7% for construction inflation for projects this year, this was now likely to be in the order of some 11% to 12%.

Previous estimates for cost inflation had been too conservative, the committee heard. Nonetheless, contracts had inflation built into them and were "fixed".

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