Sub-contractors in Dail protest over huge debts left by builders
"Subbies are being screwed." The words on their placards said it all.
Up to 50 sub-contractors travelled in a convoy to the Dail yesterday to demand new laws to protect them from being ripped off.
During the boom years they helped build huge residential estates, schools, service stations, roads and convents.
But they have been left high and dry with bills of hundreds of thousands of euro as the building firms that employed them went into liquidation or refused to pay up.
Nearly all of the men who travelled to Dublin yesterday from all over the country are owed money by the now bust Pierse Contracting.
Some said they had unpaid bills of up to €654,000 and were thinking of closing down and emigrating.
As a result, Pierse's offices on the N3 were the starting point for yesterday's convoy.
Among the group was Mick Doherty, of C2K Slipform kerbing firm, based in Trim, Co Meath, and his employee Paul Lyness of Navan.
Mr Lyness said he was struggling with his mortgage because his boss did not have enough work and was finding it hard to support his son who is studying at the National University of Ireland in Galway.
"In November, work came to a halt and I began signing on," he said.
"Two or three weeks ago, I was getting a day's work every two days.
"We're lucky now that we're getting three days a week, but some people are getting nothing."
Mr Doherty said Pierce Contracting owed him €48,000 and he was barely able to stay afloat.
He claimed other main contractors who had "screwed subbies" were still getting government contracts.
"There's nothing major coming up in terms of jobs and there's no answers from anybody," he said.