Update: Opening new schools despite Carillion collapse is a government priority - Taoiseach

Update: Opening new schools despite Carillion collapse is a government priority - Taoiseach

Update 3.11pm: The Taoiseach says ensuring new schools open despite the collapse of the building company involved is a government priority.

The closure of Carillion has put the future of five schools and a further education college in doubt.

The surprise collapse of the building company has meant work has stopped at the sites.

Leo Varadkar says it will take a few weeks to sort.

"In all cases, these are replacement schools, so the existing schools are still available. But we want people to move into the new schools as soon as possible," said the Taoiseach.

Update: Opening new schools despite Carillion collapse is a government priority - Taoiseach

"I think it is going to take us a couple of weeks to sort this out. But we will sort it out. We are in a strong position.

"The schools are 90% complete. We as the state own the buildings.

"The payments that have been so far to the PP contractor is in the order of €4-5m."

- Digital Desk

Earlier: Fianna Fáil calls for special debate on Carillion collapse as school building projects thrown into doubt

Fianna Fáil has called for a special debate in the Dáil about the collapse of Carillion.

The UK construction company went bust last week and 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.

The school buildings are said to be 90% complete.

Billy O'Shea, principal of Loreto College, said he had been due to have the keys to new facilities for 900 pupils as the collapse hit.

"We have been repeatedly told over the last week, since this crisis unfolded in the UK, that we should be OK, that there's a lot of goodwill and hopes that we would be able to move in," he told RTE Radio.

Mr O'Shea said it is hoped the locks on the new school buildings will be opened next month when a new facilities management arrangement is put in place.

The building plan for Loreto College, Wexford.
The building plan for Loreto College, Wexford.

Fianna Fáil Education spokesperson Thomas Byrne wants the Minister for Education, Richard Bruton, to appear before the Dáil to answer questions about the company's collapse.

He said: "Five schools across the country are completely unsure as to what will happen to their building projects, and to their future maintenance services due to the collapse of Carillion.

"When Fianna Fáil, and I as Education Spokesperson, last week raised questions about this matter, we were assured by Minister Bruton that he was “confident” that the five Irish schools wouldn’t be affected by the collapse.

"RTÉ news is reporting now that there is significant doubt about these projects and I can confirm in my own constituency, there is extreme concern from sub-contractors connected with the Eureka project in Kells."

Billy Wall of the OPATSI union which represents some trades, said workers cannot be allowed to bear the brunt of the Carillion collapse.

"It was always claimed that this model protected the taxpayer and transferred risk to the private sector - Carillion shows that this is clearly not the case," he said.

The principal of Coláiste Ráithín in Bray, Co Wicklow has revealed that their move to a new building has been delayed.

Gearóid Ó Ciaráin told RTÉ's Morning Ireland that he was to get the keys for the new facility on Monday, but builders have been leaving the site and he does not know when the handover will happen.

He said the school is in "dire straits" and he branded the delay "outrageous", as they have hired extra teachers to work in the new extension which the school has been waiting for since 1995.

Mr Byrne said: "I’ll be asking the Ceann Comhairle to allow a special debate on this matter to press the Minister as to why he gave misleading assurances last week and to set out now the exact plan for the finishing of these schools and their future maintenance."


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