Minister for Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform Paschal Donohoe is to bring forward a proposal aimed at avoiding further cost overruns in future State building projects.

He made the announcement at a Fine Gael Parliamentary Party meeting in Dublin tonight.

He told his fellow TDs and Senators that both he, the Taoiseach and the Cabinet took responsibility for the cost overrun at the National Children's Hospital.

Mr Donohoe said if Fine Gael takes credit for economic growth and low unemployment, then it must also take responsibility for the challenges.

The move is viewed by some TDs as being supportive of the Health Minister.

Yesterday, he appeared to have criticised Simon Harris when he told the Finance Committee that it would have been "helpful" if he had been informed at an earlier stage about costs ballooning.

Minister for Health Simon Harris today expressed frustration at the "characterisation" about what happened between August and November last year in relation to the cost of the new national children’s hospital.

Mr Harris described the characterisation as him knowing about the cost in August and nothing happening until November.

"Nothing could be further from the truth", he said.

He was speaking at the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Health, where he addressed a number of issues regarding the new children’s hospital.

Yesterday, the revised terms of reference of the review by consultants PwC into the cost increases were published.

This probe is seeking to find out what was known, when and by whom about the escalating building costs that could yet top €1.5bn.

Rather than read an opening statement, the minister sought to address issues being raised in the media today around potential cost pressures being highlighted at an earlier stage.

He said that by his count, the €61m of potential cost pressures had been discussed at the health committee and at the Public Accounts Committee on at least 11 occasions.

Far from the figures being concealed, he said, it was explicitly referenced in a briefing note in advance of his attendance at the committee last week.

Mr Harris pointed out that it was 27 August when he became aware of the significant cost increases and that the Secretary General of the Department was on leave until the start of September.

He said there was a significant amount of negotiation ongoing with commercial entities to try to drive down the cost.

He pointed out that the legal entity that had the contracts, and the only legal entity that could negotiate, was the National Paediatric Hospital.

"This idea that I and I alone was the only one that knew about the GMP (Gross Maximum Price) process, does not stand up to scrutiny", he said.

Mr Harris said it was always going to be essential that before Phase B of the works could be awarded, the GMP process had to be finalised.

He said the process was ongoing in September and it was not concealed.

During October, he said his officials in his department were engaging with the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform and the final figure became apparent on 9 November.

The PwC review is set to be completed by 29 March, and will also try to find potential cost savings.

Questions over the presence of the Government's chief procurement officer on the board of the National Paediatric Hospital Development Board were put to the minister. 

Sinn Féin's spokesperson on health questioned how someone could sit on a board that was discussing emerging challenges with the national children's hospital budget and "goes back to work and says nothing".

Louise O'Reilly asked the minister if he viewed that as appropriate. 

Mr Harris said rules around the appointment of civil servants to non-commercial semi-State boards stated that there is a duty to tell the minister if there are concerns.

He said it appeared that the board was dealing with the issues that were escalated to the Department of Health. 

"Your suggestion is that someone is sitting at a board and no one is doing anything about it. I don't think that's a fair reflection of what the board was doing" he told Ms O'Reilly. 

Minister Harris said it appeared to him that the board was trying to grapple with a problem that was escalated through the structures. 

"But lets see what PwC say", he added.

Labour Party health spokesperson Alan Kelly asked if attempts were made to meet or inform the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform of the cost overruns between the end of August and November.

The Secretary General of the Department of Health Jim Breslin said attempts were made by email to meet officials in the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform in October.

Mr Kelly asked why the meeting did not take place until 9 November.

Mr Breslin suggested that there was an issue with scheduling - that it was a busy time because of the budget and estimate cycle.

Mr Kelly described as a "massive issue", that budget negotiations were ongoing, yet the Department of Health could not get a meeting with the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform.

"This is Fr Ted territory", he said.

Clarifying that she was not suggesting that anyone was telling lies, Fine Gael TD Kate O'Connell said it was not credible for taxpayers to believe that the head of government procurement sat on the National Paediatric Hospital Board and did not alert people to "noise" around the rising cost of the hospital.

She said that somewhere along the way, Paul Quinn must have said it was getting out of control.

The Fine Gael TD defended Mr Harris, who she said was being treated "unfairly".

"If people deliberately plot behind your back not to tell you, how are you to know", she said, adding that it was not the job of the minister to go measuring the cable.

Elsewhere, Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald said that only on the watch of the Government could the reaction to the "farce and fiasco" of the overrun on the hospital project be to reach for the cheque book again.

Speaking on RTÉ's Drivetime, Ms McDonald said her party wanted answers and accountability. She said she wanted to establish what went wrong and whether savings could be made.

She added that ultimately the responsibility lies with the Minister for Health, the Minister for Finance and the Taoiseach.

Additional reporting: Paul Cunningham