Western Building Systems 'looking forward' to building hospital ward to 'proven satisfaction'

Western Building Systems 'looking forward' to building hospital ward to 'proven satisfaction'

The company that built schools later found to have structural problems, is to build a new hospital ward in Limerick.

42 schools built by Western Building Systems (WBS) were found to have structural defects.

The €14m contract for the 60-bed hospital development was signed in May.

The UL Hospital Group said the contract is progressing well and it expects the new beds to be open in time for Winter 2020.

The Department of Education is pursuing legal action against the developer after 42 schools it built were found to have structural defects.

All of the schools need permanent remediation works. WBS said it is committed to working with the Department of Education to resolve the structural issues.

Last week, Education Minister Joe McHugh was urged to "come clean" over the scale of the Celtic Tiger schools safety crisis after it was confirmed that more than a dozen facilities still need more fire protection and structural repairs.

Sinn Féin leader, Mary Lou McDonald, demanded that the exact details of what is happening at each affected school are made public, saying there is "growing unease about the safety of some schools" being used by children.

In response to an Irish Examiner investigation last year, the Department of Education confirmed last autumn that 42 schools built during the Celtic Tiger era by Western Building Systems faced potential fire and structural safety concerns.

WBS last week accused the Department of Education of “distraction and secrecy” over an ongoing review.

The company said it has “serious concerns” over how long the independent review will take.

In a series of queries put to the department, the Co Tyrone-based firm asked what criteria was adopted for the remedial assessments and subsequent works at the schools.

It also questioned why the schools identified which were certified by the department’s own professional assessors, were “suddenly” deemed to have defects.

Minister Simon Harris has said that the construction of the ward will be supervised and that he spoke with the hospital management earlier today:

"Obviously the awarding of a contract is a process that I have no role in. Public procurement rules are very clear in relation to European law and national law and I don't intend to say anything to jeopardise this project.

"What the HSE can do, and I mean this in a general sense, is obviously make sure there is appropriate site supervision for any project they award a contract and I've been discussing that with them today and expect that that will be in place in Limerick."

In a statement, Western Building Systems said it was awarded the contract "following extensive procurement processes.

"Decisions to award were based on a range of scoring criteria, including meeting and exceeding client requirements, experience, approach, qualifications and price. Having been awarded these projects, we look forward to completing each to similar and proven satisfaction."

The firm added: "We welcome engagement and cooperation with public contracting partners in respect of all such projects, not least to ensure we avoid a situation whereby projects which are deemed to have met contractual requirements and certified as such by Government Departments and agencies are subsequently not deemed to be."


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