Education minister ’confident’ schools won’t be affected by Carillion collapse

Education minister ’confident’ schools won’t be affected by Carillion collapse
Pic: Joe Giddens/PA Wire

It has emerged that a UK construction company that has gone bust, is involved in building five schools and a college here.

Carillion is a 50% shareholder in InspiredSpaces which is building schools and a college of further education in counties, Wexford, Wicklow, Meath and Carlow.

The schools involved are Loreto College, Wexford; Coláiste Raithin, Bray; St. Philomena’s Primary School, Bray; Eureka Secondary School, Kells; Tyndall College, Carlow and Carlow Institute of Further Education.

Education Minister Richard Bruton says the National Development Finance Agency (NDFA), which is managing the projects, is in discussions to work out what happens next.

"These projects are 90% completed at this stage, the State hasn’t paid anything other than a small sum for site works," said Minister Bruton.

"I am confident that the NDFA will be in a position to discuss with the remaining shareholder a process for resolving and completing these works but obviously the NDFA have to work that out in full detail with the company involved."

Fianna Fáil Education Spokesperson, Thomas Byrne, has said that the Minister must act swiftly and decisively with regard to the five schools that have been left in limbo following the collapse of Carillion.

"One school, in my own constituency of Meath East, Eureka Secondary School in Kells, is due to open in a matter of weeks, but as a result of the difficulties at Carillion, there is doubt as to when it might happen, and who will provide the facilities management and catering services in the school," said Mr Byrne.

“There are, I believe, two options available to Minister Bruton to end the uncertainty for these schools, the parents, and pupils. The first option is for the State to take over the running of the non-academic services in these schools, similar to what takes place in most schools in the country. This is the easiest and quickest option.

“The second option is for the State to go out to tender again, and to seek expressions of interest from other private contractors for the running of these services.

"This is not an option that is conducive to ending the uncertainty for these school communities, and one I do not favour. New schools are ready to open; they cannot wait any longer."

In a statement, a spokesman for the NDFA said: "In accordance with international best practice, this PPP contract includes detailed provisions that apply in the event of the liquidation of a consortium member to ensure that the project proceeds on a “business as usual” basis with minimal disruption.

"Given the advanced state of these schools (approximately 90% completed) the NDFA does not envisage material disruption or delay to the works. However the NDFA is actively monitoring the position in the context of the robust contractual protections provided for under the PPP contract.

"The estimated capital value of the contract is c. €100m. To date, the State has made a payment of €4m in respect of off-site works. The State is not obliged to make any further payment until the full works and services set out under the contract have been satisfactorily delivered for each school."

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