Fears for 1,100 jobs as NAMA sends receiver into McNamara
FEARS are growing that more than 1,000 jobs will be lost in the construction sector after the National Asset Management Agency (NAMA) secured the appointment of a receiver over developer Bernard McNamara's flagship construction company.
Mr McNamara, once one of the most prolific developers in the country, was last night said to be "devastated" after a receiver was appointed to Michael McNamara and Company, the company founded by his father.
Some 400 people are directly employed by the iconic building firm, which was involved in key public-private partnerships and prestigious private contracts over the past decade.
But there are fears for more than 1,100 jobs as employees in other firms owned and operated by Mr McNamara and sub-contractors employed by his firms face an uncertain future in light of NAMA's move.
Mr McNamara reluctantly agreed to the appointment of a statutory receiver to Michael McNamara and Company after NAMA rejected survival plans for the family-owned firm.
The developer, a former Fianna Fail councillor, was engaged in frantic talks in recent days with NAMA to avert losing control of the group which shut all of its sites last night.
Scores of shocked construction workers and sub-contractors protested outside building sites in Tallaght Institute of Technology in Dublin and at Letterkenny Hospital in Donegal.
The appointment of a receiver comes as the Irish Independent has learnt that several NAMA-bound developers have sought legal advice on the possibility of filing for voluntary bankruptcy to avoid dealing with the toxic loans agency.
Some have expressed the view that it would be easier to cede control over their finances to the bankruptcy courts rather than deal with the intensive scrutiny of their personal and business affairs by NAMA.
The appointment of accountancy firm Farrell Grant Sparks as statutory receiver marks the first time that NAMA has exercised its extensive enforcement powers.
It means NAMA and the banks have taken effective control of Michael McNamara and Company which Mr McNamara, who has admitted he has debts of some €1.5bn, had desperately tried to distance from his personal solvency difficulties.
Taoiseach Brian Cowen last night insisted finances were in place to complete construction of an A&E unit at a busy acute hospital following the collapse of Michael McNamara construction.
More than 50 shocked construction workers arrived at the site of the construction of a new €22m A&E unit and three-floor medical unit extension at Letterkenny General Hospital yesterday morning to find they were locked out.
The workers were informed the previous evening that the project, which is within three weeks of completion, was being shut down with immediate effect following the appointment of a receiver.
Speaking in Donegal yesterday, Mr Cowen said contract monies were in place for the completion of the unit.
"It is a matter for the receiver now to deal with that issue. That could go either way at this juncture, I wouldn't know what that would entail, only to say there has been money secured for the project in full," he said.
The HSE was believed to be seeking legal advice last night in the hope of securing an agreement from the receiver that the subcontractors could see the project through to completion.
Donegal County Council deputy mayor Padraig MacLochlainn last night said he was shocked that the HSE or Government had no agreement in place to ensure against such an eventuality.
The appointment of a receiver concludes a torrid year for Mr McNamara, whose involvement in the ill-fated €412m deal to buy the Irish Glass Bottle site in Ringsend in 2007 prompted him to declare in court proceedings last December that he was broke.
The group's prestigious private work included part of the Point Village in the docklands, the Killanin Stand at Galway racecourse and the Shelbourne.
It also secured many lucrative state-financed projects, including hospital projects at St Vincent's Dublin; social housing in Cork and Dublin; road schemes; third-level institutions; and the extension of the National Gallery.