Sunday 22 October 2017

Firm behind five builds reaped benefits of deal

The five buildings that have been assessed were meant to provide 60 minutes of fire retardation to allow them to be evacuated. However, an audit for the Department of Education found that actual level of retardation would be less than that. Stock picture
The five buildings that have been assessed were meant to provide 60 minutes of fire retardation to allow them to be evacuated. However, an audit for the Department of Education found that actual level of retardation would be less than that. Stock picture
John Mulligan

John Mulligan

Western Building Systems made profits of £8m (€8.7m) between April 2007 and April 2010 - during the period it was developing the school properties under scrutiny over fire safety concerns.

The Northern Ireland company has also received financial backing from the UK arm of AIB, it has emerged. The Irish taxpayer still owns more than 70pc of the bank following its re-flotation on the stock market during the summer.

AIB's UK unit provided backing to Western Building Systems in 2008, 2011 and 2012.

The Northern Ireland firm built five schools, in Dublin, Wicklow and Mullingar, Co Westmeath, in 2008, where fire safety breaches have been detected by inspectors. The schools were built under the then-government's Rapid Build programme.

But Western Building Systems has built at least 25 other schools here.

The five buildings that have been assessed were meant to provide 60 minutes of fire retardation to allow them to be evacuated. However, an audit for the Department of Education found that actual level of retardation would be less than that.

Western Building Systems (WBS) has insisted that the buildings in question met all relevant fire safety and building regulations at the time of completion, and that it cannot be responsible for any works that were undertaken by third-parties subsequent to the buildings being handed over by WBS.

Soared

The Northern Ireland company is owned by managing director Martin McCloskey, of Coalisland in Co Tyrone, as well as Nora McCloskey, Declan McCloskey and Melissa Canavan, formerly McCloskey.

Accounts for Western Building Systems show that its profits soared from £572,000 in the 12 months to April 2006, to £4m in the year to April 2009, as it reaped the benefits of its contracts with the Department of Education.

It also undertakes projects in the UK.

Irish Independent

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