Ireland's construction sector will enter recession next year despite the new programme for government this week pledging a funding blitz for infrastructure and housing, according to the boss of the country's biggest building group, Sisk.
"I think, overall in construction, there will be a recession," CEO Steve Bowcott told the Irish Independent. "We're just keeping an eye on what size that will be."
He added that Sisk might not be as badly hit as other construction companies.
The group has about 5,000 people working at sites and offices in Ireland, including 800 directly employed staff.
Plans by Sisk to hire an additional 250 staff this year have been shelved, said Mr Bowcott, who added that the group, which also operates in the UK, Sweden and the Netherlands, had expected to grow its revenue by 20pc this year, but it will remain unchanged from 2019.
"All of that revenue loss is being pushed into 2021," he said. "We're all hoping public expenditure comes through by the second half of next year to help our civils business. Our civils business has shrunk dramatically in the past 18 months."
In 2018 - the last year for which accounts for Sisk's holding company, Sicon, are available - the group recorded revenue of €1.17bn.
Sisk is currently working on projects in Ireland including the construction of Fibonacci Square on the site on the former AIB headquarters in Dublin. The offices are being developed by Johnny Ronan and Colony Capital and will be part of Facebook's new campus in the capital.
Mr Bowcott said Sisk is already talking to local authorities around the country to persuade them to relax planning rules to enable the company to work longer hours on sites.
Yesterday, he told a PwC webcast on how companies are managing a return to work that such a relaxation should be implemented for "at least six months".
"There's a lot activity we can do which is noiseless," he told the Irish Independent. "If we were able to work until, say, 10pm or 8pm, providing it was within noise abatement rules, and 6pm on a Saturday, that would help us catch up the time we've lost from the shutdown and from productivity.
"If we were able to have double shifts, we would be able to supplement the productivity we've lost.
"We won't catch it up, but by putting more resources in and working longer hours, we can at least hold the productivity we need for the future."