herald

Saturday 15 December 2018

Builders 'won't let schools open until we get paid'

Building contractors Lar Conway, Brian O’Carroll and John Foran stand outside the entrance to two schools in Bray
Building contractors Lar Conway, Brian O’Carroll and John Foran stand outside the entrance to two schools in Bray

Subcontractors at a number of new school buildings have insisted they won't allow the schools to open until they are paid money owed to them.

A number of entrances at schools in Wexford and Bray were blocked off yesterday - with subcontractors saying they won't be budging until they receive what they are owed.

The small subcontracting companies had been employed by Sammon Contracting Ireland, which has since gone into liquidation.

Sammon had been contracted by Carillion Construction, which also went bust.

It is understood around €14m is owed to subcontractors over a number of new school builds.

Owed

Offaly man John Foran (57) runs Emerald Pitch Development and said he is due around €80,000 for building the pitches at Scoil Raithin in Bray.

He said subcontractors want the Government to step in and pay them what they are owed.

"All the subcontractors are owed a lot of money, the school in Bray here is all but finished. Sammon are gone, Carillion are gone, the schools are nearly finished. Everyone wants the schools opened," he said.

"From a Government point of view, they're pushing ahead and the subcontractors are left swinging in the wind for millions, that's what we're owed.

"We're talking small companies, family businesses".

Lar Conway (53), from Kildare, did pile-driving work for Loreto College in Wexford town.

"It's my own business, it's a small business. It's a fair whack of money and it's all about protecting your business, I'm an employer," he said.

He added that there was a hurry for the schools to be finished, but no hurry to pay the subcontractors.

In response to the protest, the Department of Education said that while the situation was "regrettable", it did not enter into any contract with these subcontractors.

"While the situation faced by subcontractors who have not been paid for work undertaken is very difficult, given that their contractual counterparty is in liquidation, it would be regrettable if there were now further delays in the opening of the schools, given that neither the schools nor the Department of Education and Skills were party to the contracts in question," a statement read.

"Neither the department nor the NDFA (National Development Finance Agency) have information on the detailed contractual and payment arrangements between Sammon and its subcontractors.

"These matters were agreed exclusively between the private parties, as is the norm on any school building or public works contract.

"Sammon is now the subject of statutory liquidation proceedings and therefore engagement with Sammon's creditors is the responsibility of the court appointed liquidator," the department added.

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