Fianna Fáil TD James Lawless has said he has been “staggered” at the delay in construction work on the new national children’s hospital in Dublin.

Fianna Fáil TD James Lawless has said he has been “staggered” at the delay in construction work on the new national children’s hospital in Dublin.
Speaking on RTÉ’s Today with Sarah McInerney he said he is awaiting responses about details on clauses in the contract with developers.
Building works stopped in March as a result of Covid-19 measures. The move came after construction firm BAM received confirmation from the National Paediatric Hospital Development Board that work on the hospital was not considered essential construction services.
Mr Lawless said construction delays have been explained due to space issues at the site and the inability to social distance, and proximity to St James’s Hospital, but he said “there were always concerns” with the proximity to a live hospital.
Mr Lawless said the contract needs to be examined to establish who is liable for delays.
He said the Government needs to “play hardball” and it is “not good enough that the State foots the bill to get this project moving again”.
“At some stage we have to get tough with contractors, other parties, and multiagencies involved”.
Mr Lawless said he hopes coverage about the delay on work at the site will “concentrate minds and get people back to work.” 
He said he hopes the hospital can be completed by 2023, but he added that it will be difficult to make up the three-month delay.
Mr Lawless said that lessons need to be learned from the pandemic, and that future contracts need to include clauses to account of unforeseen delays of this nature.
Read:Work to stop on National Children’s Hospital during Covid-19 crisisConcern grows over final costs for new children’s hospital
In a statement today, the National Paediatric Hospital Development Board said since easing of restrictions on 18 May, the board has been engaging with BAM to ensure the earliest possible reopening of the site.
“Some matters still remain unresolved at this time, relating primarily to the cost implications of the closure and reopening of the site and who should bear them.
“This should not prevent BAM from returning to the site however as these matters can be resolved through the agreed dispute management process while work on site continues, and for that reason the NPHDB has been clear on its expectation that the Main Contractor meets its obligation by returning to the site without further delay.”
It states that before in November the board had told the Public Accounts Committee that the main contractor was behind schedule on the construction works “but the NPHDB was of the view then that it was possible for the contractor to make up that time.
“As of March 2020 when the Contractor decided to shut the site following the Covid-19 restrictions the Main Contractor had not made up the time lost.
It said the board is continuing to engage with the contractor to obtain an updated programme of works that is in line with its contractual commitments.  
“All those involved in the design and build of the new children’s hospital are acutely aware of how urgent it is to complete the hospital as soon as possible within the budget allowed and is committed to doing so as quickly as possible on behalf of children, young people and their families.”
The building is due to completed in late 2022, which will be followed by a period of commissioning before it opens in 2023.
Last November the board responsible for the hospital said it could not be certain of the final price of the project.
The cost of the project at that time was €1.73bn after being initially estimated at €650m. 
The Labour party claimed the highly controversial project would exceed €2bn. 
A letter from David Gunning, the chief officer of the National Paediatric Hospital Development Board, read out at the Public Accounts Committee on 7 November said: “There have been a number of exceptions that have been outside the approved budget for which there cannot be price certainty at this point or for the duration of the project.”