Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee Seán Fleming has said it is "highly frustrating" that the start of this morning's meeting was dominated by the non-attendance of Chief Procurement Officer of the Department of Finance.

Mr Fleming said the PAC was only informed last night that senior official Paul Quinn would not be present at the committee today.

The chairman said the appropriate time for Mr Quinn to attend the committee would be when the National Paediatric Hospital Development Board (NPHDB) comes before it again.

Mr Quinn was also on the NPHDB in another capacity.

Mr Fleming said that the invitation to attend the PAC had been issued to Mr Quinn a month ago and it was a source of annoyance that the committee only learned late last night that he would not be present today.

He said that the only person obliged to attend the PAC is the accounting officer and the accounting officer can decide who he or she wishes to bring along.

Sinn Féin's David Cullinane told the committee that it was very unsatisfactory and deeply disappointing that Mr Quinn was not present.

Fianna Fáil's Mark MacSharry said that the 18-page opening statement to the committee from Robert Watt, the Secretary General of the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, did not mention the new children's hospital once.

He described this as a 'Harvey Smith' to the committee. 

Mr Watt told the committee that he had no doubt that Mr Quinn acted 100% as he should have done on the Board of the NPHDB.

He said Mr Quinn was aware that the chairperson of the board knew of the issues and the chairperson raised them with the Minister for Health, as the sanctioning department.