The building contractor for the National Children's Hospital has confirmed that it intends to resume work on the site from Monday.
The statement follows a plea earlier today by Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly, who called on the builders to "please get back on site".
A BAM spokesman said: "BAM has confirmed to the Hospital Board that it intends to resume works on site from Monday next.
"It does this in good faith, following robust communication with the Board and in the interest of completing the project as quickly and economically as possible.
"Work will recommence with the safety of all stakeholders as the top priority and with full implementation of the Government's mandatory Covid-19 restrictions.
"We look forward to a successful resumption and getting this vital project moving, notwithstanding all of the challenges that are not of our making".
Very happy to hear that the contractor will be back on site on Monday. The children of Ireland need this hospital.— Stephen Donnelly (@DonnellyStephen) July 10, 2020
Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly tweeted that he was "very happy" at the news. He had earlier called for BAM to return to the site, saying the children of Ireland need a new hospital.
"I don't see how anything is served with this ongoing delay."
Mr Donnelly was speaking following a meeting with Taoiseach Micheál Martin and the HSE CEO Paul Reid to discuss the approach to healthcare delivery and winter planning during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Earlier today I had the very great pleasure of visiting @HSELive where I got the chance to thank staff for the work they do every day and in particular for their extraordinary service and dedication over the last few months on the front line against COVID-19. They are heroes.— Micheál Martin (@MichealMartinTD) July 10, 2020
Asked about the National Children's Hospital, Mr Martin said it was "unacceptable" that work had stopped on the site and he was "angry about this".
He said a lot of investment and effort has already gone into it the hospital and the only objective has been that the children of Ireland would have a first class health facility.
The Taoiseach said he is not interested in excuses and that the contractors should get back on the site and start building. He was fed up of claim and counterclaim, he said.
The National Paediatric Hospital Development Board (NPHDB) has given 14-day notice to contractors BAM to resume work on the site of the €1.7bn facility and this was due to expire within days.
A case is pending in the Commercial Court over the validity of the board's instruction to begin the overground works, or Phase B, with the board denying BAM's claims that the design was not ready.
BAM was reported to be concerned over the cost of social distancing on the site and wanted this agreed before work resumed.
In a statement, the NPHDB said these matters could be resolved through an "agreed dispute management process while work on site continues".
'I'm angry about this. I’m not interested in excuses,’ says Micheál Martin on the National Children’s Hospital. ‘If they have the interests of the children of Ireland at heart, they should get back on the site and start building’. | More: https://t.co/OYw1tdxWcF pic.twitter.com/asXRPBpGSR— RTÉ News (@rtenews) July 10, 2020
Meanwhile, BAM had stated that it was not being offered any compensation for the Covid-19 disruption, despite the fact that the Government is making ex gratia payments to other contractors on public works contracts.
BAM said that under current restrictions it will only be able to take half of the 2,000 workers needed at the peak of construction and this may have to be further reduced as much of the work is now indoors.
BAM has previously objected to criticism in the Dáil over the cost of the project, which has risen from €983m in 2017 to €1.7bn now. There is an expectation that it will eventually reach €2bn.
The site at St James's Hospital in Dublin's south inner city is the only large-scale site that has not returned to work, according to industry sources, and BAM has other sites around the country that are working.
There were 700 workers on the site when it was shut. It is due to involve around 1,300 workers as more contractors move in.
The building is due to be completed in late 2022, which will be followed by a period of commissioning before it opens in 2023.
Some of the big contractors who are waiting to go on site include Jones Engineering, which has a €177m contract for mechanical works, and Mercury, which has a €157m contract for electrical installations.
In its statement, the NPHDB said since the easing of restrictions on 18 May, the board has been engaging with BAM to ensure the earliest possible reopening of the site.
It said: "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."