School extensions over a year behind

Two school extensions being built by the troubled Sammon Group are already over a year behind schedule.

School extensions over a year behind

The High Court’s appointment of an interim examiner to Kildare-based Sammon Contracting Group and two related companies on Thursday is a repercussion of the liquidation of UK firm Carillion in January. Work has since been stopped on five sites where Sammon is building five schools and a further-education college for Inspired Spaces, a consortium between Carillion subsidiaries and Dutch Infrastructure Fund (DIF).

DIF is retendering for any remaining work to be done, with Sammon expected to bid to finish construction elements worth €87m to the group. The Department of Education told the Irish Examiner last month that all the schools should be completed by the end of the summer holidays.

Sammon Contracting Limited is separately working for the department on four school building projects under non-PPP contracts. They are among 18 large-scale school projects worth €145.5m awarded to Sammon in the last five years.

Work at the sites of two ongoing projects in Cork started in the final months of 2015 and were due to have been completed in February 2017, the department told the Irish Examiner.

The extension to St Colman’s Community College in Midleton was being provided to increase its capacity to 1,000 students at a cost of €9.6m. A €6.9m extension is being built at Coláiste an Chraoibhin in Fermoy to allow it cater for 850 pupils.

Work began in 2016 on an eight-classroom school for Gaelscoil Bharra in Cabra, Dublin 7, which was ready for occupation last September. An all-weather pitch and reinstatement of the adjacent GAA club’s car park have yet to completed.

The Department of Education said work is advancing to schedule at the €34m Maynooth post-primary campus in Kildare, where two new 1,000-student second-level schools and a sports hall are due to be completed in May 2019.

“The department will be proactively engaging with Sammon and the examiner to discuss the impact on any individual projects and, in particular, completion dates for the Cork projects,” said a spokesperson.

The High Court appointed an examiner after hearing the group was confident it would be in a position to complete its contracts on time and return to profitability if arrangements could be made with Sammon’s creditors. Monthly payments from Inspired Spaces had stopped in December and sub-contractors and suppliers on the PPP works could not be paid.

The department paid Sammon Contracting Ltd €26.5m from 2014 to 2017, including €13.4m paid to the company in 2015.

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