Carillion projects put out to tender

Five schools and a college being built by a partnership involving the collapsed UK construction firm Carillion should be open by September.

Building and facilities contracts under the public-private partnership (PPP) have had to be re-tendered but the remaining partner in the deal with the Department of Education expects bids back within weeks.

All work ceased on five sites in counties Carlow, Meath, Wexford, and Wicklow after the collapse of Carillion in January. Three of its subsidiaries were partners with Dutch Infrastructure Fund (DIF) in the Inspired Spaces consortium selected as the department’s private partner on the deal in 2015.

The project involves the €100m construction of a second-level school and further education college in Carlow, and three second-level schools and a primary school in Bray, Kells, and Wexford town. Over the 25 years of the deal, the consortium was also to provide management of facilities and other non-educational aspects of the schools.

Work at the four sites — including a primary and a second-level school on a single site in Bray — was around 90% complete by January, but staff and students at two schools were already preparing to move from their existing buildings.

The PPP contract stipulated that the project should proceed on a “business as usual” basis in the event of a consortium member going into liquidation.

The National Development Finance Agency (NDFA), which manages the PPP process on behalf of the department, had initially said it did not envisage material disruption or delay to the works.

But the Department of Education has told the Irish Examiner that, because of the Carillion liquidation, the agreements in place between for construction and facilities management had to be terminated and need to be replaced.

“A number of contractors or service providers have been invited to quote for finishing the works and provision of facilities management services over the 25-year life of the PPP project,” a department spokesperson said.

“DIF expects to receive final bids from tenderers, with whom it has already had extensive engagement, by early April,” he said.

On this basis, and allowing time for evaluation of tenders and to appoint contractors and service providers, the NDFA said DIF is targeting all six buildings to be operational by the start of the next school year.

But the two schools that were most advanced — Coláiste Raithín in Bray and Loreto College in Wexford — are expected to be delivered earlier in the summer.

The update has been provided as the department prepares to have a review carried out on the first schools PPP project, which is more than half way through its 25-year lifetime. The five second-level schools built under the deal opened in 2002 and 2003.

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