Fianna Fáil: Taxpayers must not foot bill for Western Building Systems schools

Fianna Fáil: Taxpayers must not foot bill for Western Building Systems schools
Ardgillan College Dublin which has been closed due to safety concerns. Pic: Collins

Latest: More steps need to be taken to ensure the tax-payer is not left footing the bill for badly built schools, according to Fianna Fáil.

Assessments of the 42 Western Building Systems schools were completed yesterday with more than half needing some form of remedial work.

The Education Minister has said safety measures will be in place by Monday when the schools are due to re-open after the mid-term break.

Fianna Fáil's education spokesperson Thomas Byrne says the Department of Education must pursue who is responsible for the structural defects in these schools.

"The Department is one of the biggest constructors in the country with over half a billion every year in its Capital programme that's always fully spent and that is going up," said Mr Byrne.

"We need to make sure that these things don't happen, we need to find out why they were allowed to happen.

"We also need to make sure that the Department is taking whatever appropriate action is necessary to ensure that the tax payer isn't landed with the cost of these projects."

Earlier: Western Building Systems: No 'short cuts or penny pinching' in school construction

Western Building Systems is insisting there were no "short cuts or penny pinching" involved in its school construction projects.

Work is underway, after assessments of the company's 42 schools were completed yesterday - with more than half needing some form of remedial work.

The exterior of Tyrrelstown Educate Together School in Dublin which has been closed due to safety concerns. Photo: Sam Boal/RollingNews.ie
The exterior of Tyrrelstown Educate Together School in Dublin which has been closed due to safety concerns. Photo: Sam Boal/RollingNews.ie

19 out of the 42 schools built by Western Building Systems are having safety measures like fencing and protective decking installed.

19 other schools were given the all clear following assessments.

Four schools will partially re-open.

Minister for Education Joe McHugh says safety measures should be in place by Monday.

Orla Hegarty from UCD's School of Architecture says there could be a number of reasons for the current issues.

"The Rapid Build programme started from about 2008/2009 when population pressures in new areas particularly meant that there was a big demand for school places," said Ms Hegarty.

"But unfortunately the weaknesses in that were that a lot of things were outsourced and there was enormous time pressure put on people, often unrealistically.

"Also, the system was set up to favour the cheapest bidder."

For its part Western Building systems says it has always had high standards and never engages in "shorts cuts or penny pinching" and it has criticised the department for giving the impression at the start of the controversy that all 42 schools could be facing closure.

Digital Desk

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