IRELAND suffered the third-biggest drop in construction output in Europe over the past 12 months, according to new figures from the Central Statistics Office.
Construction production dropped by 34% between the first quarter of 2009 and the first quarter of this year. That compared with an average fall of just 7.3% in the EU 15 countries and 7.8% in the EU 27 region.
Only Latvia (43.4%) and Lithuania (42.9%) saw bigger collapses in their construction sector.
In Britain and Finland there were actually increases of 1.2% and 1.6%, respectively.
The Construction Industry Federation said it was unsurprised at the figures.
“The likelihood is that the fall-off in activity will continue and, by the end of next year, the total value of activity in the sector will be less than €7 billion which is one of the lowest in Europe even though we have one of the largest infrastructure deficits,” said Martin Whelan, CIF’s director of research and policy. “There is a lack of clarity around funding for the National Development Plan and there is a real risk that the reduced Government investment targets for 2011 and 2012 cannot be met because of the fact that less than €100m worth of projects have been awarded this year.”
Mr Whelan said the implications of that are that 120,000 more jobs will be lost as a result of the downturn by the end of next year and, as a result, the anticipated economic recovery will not only be a jobless one but will be accompanied by further job losses.”
Next Tuesday, the Construction Industry Council is to make a presentation to the Joint Oireachtas Committee at which it will highlight the job creation and economic stimulus which would be achieved by adequate investment in infrastructural development.
Meanwhile, there were fears last night for 106 jobs at Longford cable company B3 Solutions after it was placed in receivership.
“The workers at the plant had no indication that the company was in trouble until SIPTU representatives were informed yesterday afternoon. This news has hit workers like a bombshell,” said Sean Nolan of SIPTU which represents 85 general operative and supervisor staff at the company..
He said the news broke on June 30 when staff representatives were contacted by accountancy firm, Deloitte Touche, and informed it was acting as receivers for the company.
“It is our hope that the company can be sold as a going-concern,” he said. “Anything otherwise would be a disaster for the workers and for the town. We will be sitting down with the receivers later today to explore alternatives to closure.”
The receiver said he is seeking expressions of interest in the company and is trying to sell the business as a going concern.
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