THE BUILDING OF some schools in Ireland has stalled due to the collapse of UK construction giant Carillion.
As reported by RTÉ News this morning, the construction of several schools around the country has stalled as it’s uncertain whether workers will get paid.
The company, which employs about 20,000 people in the UK, recently went into liquidation as it struggled to cope with mounting debts.
There are now concerns as to the status of the hundreds of projects that the firm was working on at the time of its collapse.
Carillion was responsible for the design, build, finance and maintenance of five schools on four sites in counties Carlow, Meath, Wexford and Wicklow.
RTÉ reported today that work has stopped at the Wexford school, while labourers who were working on a school in Carlow were told to go home yesterday as the site was shutting down.
Carillion was a 50% shareholder in a consortium that was building the schools.
In a recent response Dáil response to questioning from Fianna Fáil education spokesman Thomas Byrne, Education Minister Richard Bruton said it is now up to the group’s remaining shareholders to make sure the projects are completed.
Netherlands-headquartered Dutch Infrastructure Fund (DIF) – the other 50% shareholder involved in the scheme – said it hopes to “resolve this complex situation as quickly as possible”.
“However, it is inevitable there will be a delay while dealing with the subcontractors and all other stakeholders in the projects,” a spokesman for the fund management firm told Fora through a statement.
“DIF would like to reassure all those in the areas where the schools are being built that we are working as hard as we can to try and find a solution.”
The new building of secondary school Coláiste Ráithín, located in Bray Co Wicklow, has been completed – but the principal says that he hasn’t been handed the keys.
“Our school is complete at this stage, all the final fixings have been done so we’re somewhat alarmed this morning at the possibility of workers moving off the site,” Gearóid Ó Ciaráin told Morning Ireland.
He said that he was due to be handed the keys in November, but that was delayed until December, and delayed again until last Monday. He still hasn’t received the keys and doesn’t know when he will.
“We took on extra teachers for home economics and PE because we wanted to hit the new building running,” he said.
“Now the home economics teacher brings her own iron in from home in order to try and keep it going in an ordinary classroom, no cooking facilities at all, and she’s very worried that she cannot comply with the normal curriculum.”
He said that their new PE teacher has “no fields, no place in which to do PE”, there’s “no equipment whatsoever” for technology classes, and that pupils and their parents are getting “very fed up with this at this stage”.
“It seems as if we’ve wasted a whole year,” he added.
“We’re in dire straits here it seems outrageous that we can’t move into it,” he added.
The school was first approved for a new building by Mary O’Rourke in 1995.
Education Minister Richard Bruton said previously that the State has only paid out a small sum of money on works that have already been completed, adding that the State own the schools.
He said he is confident they will be able to discuss a process for resolving and completing these works with the remaining shareholder.
The schools that Carillion have been tasked to construct new buildings for are:
- Tyndall College Campus in Carlow, which will consist of a development that will provide accommodation for over 2,000 post-primary school and Further Institute of Education students
- Eureka Secondary School, Kells, in Meath. The project involves the replacement of the post-primary school and will provide 800 pupil places
- Loreto College in Wexford, where the secondary school will provide 900 pupil places
- Coláiste Ráithín, Bray, County Wicklow is to be replaced with 450 pupil places
- St Philomena’s National School in Bray, where 24 classrooms in the school are to be replaced. Both Coláiste Ráithín and St Philomena’s NS will be constructed on a single new site in Bray.
“It’s such a pity that the building is now up and nothing is being done,” Ó Ciaráin said.
Written by Gráinne Ní Aodha, with reporting from Christina Finn, and posted on TheJournal.ie
Note: This article was updated to include a comment from the Dutch Infrastructure Fund.