Insolvencies hit school building works

The collapse of building firms has delayed 20 major school and college projects over the past three years.

Most of the 16 contracts, which involved the insolvency of seven contractors, have been covered by bonds or other guarantees and work has been either completed or resumed in the majority of cases.

The information given to the Dáil Public Accounts Committee (PAC) by the Department of Education shows that the majority of issues to arise since 2010 happened in 2011.

The projects concerned include work at:

*Four third-level colleges in Dublin, Galway, and Limerick;

*Four primary schools in Cork, Dublin, Limerick, and Offaly;

*12 second-level schools in Cork, Dublin, Galway, Kildare, Kilkenny, Limerick, Meath, Roscommon, and Wicklow.

Among them is the newly built Kilfinane National School in Co Limerick, where issues arose in 2011 and the contract was re-tendered. Work was completed in time for classes to move there last September, but the school was the scene of a stand-off with parents last November when sub-contractors owed money by the replacement main contractor tried to remove materials from the school.

They were trying to force payment from the contractor, and the school had to secure a High Court injunction preventing them from taking away furniture and equipment.

The works affected also include a project in which six schools were being built for the Department of Education in a public-private partnership (PPP), and a contractor engaged by the private operator encountered difficulties in 2011.

The submission from department secretary general Seán Ó Foghlú to the PAC points out that the PPP operator appointed a new contractor to complete the works. The construction of one primary and five second-level schools in counties Cork, Kildare, Limerick, Meath, and Wicklow is now complete.

“Delays encountered led to the imposition of penalties on the operator under the terms of the PPP contract,” the department’s note to the PAC read.

Work is continuing on construction at four projects where issues arose with contractors in 2011: Inchicore National School in Dublin; Senior College Dún Laoghaire, Co Dublin; Coláiste Iognáid, Galway City; and Ardscoil Rís, Limerick.

In addition, a contract was terminated in 2011 on the project in Naas, Co Kildare, where a new headquarters was being built for the Irish Vocational Education Association, before the insolvency happened, but work has since been completed.

At Loreto Secondary School, Kilkenny, the contract was ended last year prior to insolvency, and the work is being re-tendered.


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