“Serious questions remain over HSE spending on procurement of facilities for Covid-19 purposes” – Tóibín
Aontú leader Peadar Tóibín TD has called on the Department of Health to ‘explain’ the sums of money spent by the HSE to date on the procurement of facilities for “covid-19 related purposes”. Speaking in response to figures released to him through the written questions and answers process, Deputy Tóibín said:
“Some time ago now I asked the Health Minister to release to me the location of each facility procured, the size, capacity and purpose of each facility, the costs incurred and the length of each contract. The details released to me, while incomplete, paints a very worrying picture. For example, the Citywest Hotel and Convention Centre has capacity of 756 rooms and a further capacity for 450 beds in the convention centre, yet there have only been 586 admissions so far. The contract entered was set to expire on the 31st December 2020, with the license fee costing the taxpayer £21 Million exclusive. The documents released to me note that the government have broken the contract and served their 120 days’ notice, meaning the contract will not expire until October.
“The HSE have also signed up to a contract with three hotels in Temple Bar, with 105 rooms between them. These facilities have had a mere 108 admissions thus far, and the contract dictates that when the hotels have less than 50% occupancy the cost for the taxpayer is £105 per bedroom per day. Where is the team Ireland spirit here? Under normal circumstances one could stay in a fairly decent hotel for much less than that amount. The problem with Fine Gael in government is that while on one hand they will purport to be a party of economic prudence, they are very generous in spending other people’s money and prone to massive, avoidable overspends on contracting projects, while looking scornfully at our heroic nurses and pretending they’ve no money for them”.
Deputy Tóibín continued: “There’s a guest house on Waterloo Road in Dublin, it has 21 rooms. That contract will cost us £50,000 and does not expire until the 29th August. So far there have only been six admissions to this facility!! We’re paying £93,000 per month for the University of Limerick sports arena where there is capacity for 84 beds, but only “20-30 beds in use per week”. There’s a location in Cork where only 21 rooms are in use – the bill for that is £122,000 for a three-month period. It is very clear what’s happening here – the HSE is spending public monies like there’s no tomorrow, but I would caution that there is a tomorrow, a tomorrow of major economic challange, where the most vulnerable will be the victims. One of the pillars upon which my party – Aontú – stands is economic justice, and I hope that others in the opposition benches can help me fight for it”, concluded Deputy Tóibín.