Minister says collapse of building company 'inevitably' means delays for school projects

It was announced yesterday that Sammon Contracting Ireland Limited has entered liquidation

Minister says collapse of building company 'inevitably' means delays for school projects

Minister for Education and Skills, Richard Bruton, 30-08-2017. Image: Leah Farrell/RollingNews

The Education Minister has acknowledged that school building projects will be delayed by the liquidation of a major construction company.

Richard Bruton has expressed his disappointment that Sammon Contracting did not manage to successfully exit examinership.

The company was involved in the tender to complete five schools and one college of further education following the liquidation of the UK-based Carillion Construction.

The schools in question are said to be "near full completion or close to handover".

Sammon was also involved in one school building project - the Maynooth Education Campus - which was due to be completed in May 2019.

Speaking on Newstalk Breakfast, Minister Bruton said various processes now have to be gone through before work is completed, with the various projects at different stages of the tendering process.

He said: "My immediate thoughts are obviously with the workers and families - 200 of them - and subcontractors who no doubt will be affected.

"Inevitability it does mean delays [...] We'll have to go to a tender process, and there will be statutory requirements to give people certain periods to submit their tender, certain periods to decide on the successful tenderer and so on.

"However, I've asked my officials to work on each stage of that, to ensure that we minimise the delay at each point. A number of these projects are at quite an advanced stage."

'Perfect storm'

Sammon - which had initially been appointed as a building sub-contractor to Carillion for the project - said the collapse of the British firm had a "sudden, unforeseen and major impact" on their own company.

In a statement yesterday, the company's founder and CEO Miceál Sammon said the collapse of Carillion and issues with the five-school project placed the company in a 'perfect storm'.

He observed: "We have made every effort from the day Carillion collapsed to get the [Schools Bundle 5 PPP Project] contract restarted, in the interest of our business, our supply chain and the communities for the schools."

He suggested that delays in the project mean it is 'highly improbable' that the new schools will open in time for the coming school year.

The High Court has appointed Stephen Tennant of Grant Thornton as the liquidator of Sammon Contracting Ireland Limited.