School-build projects delayed as major firm goes into liquidation
Major school building projects face delays following the appointment of a liquidator for the family-owned construction company Sammon Contracting Ireland.
The Co Kildare-based construction group employs about 200 people directly and many more subcontractors indirectly.
Among those affected is the largest schools project in the history of the State, two 1,000-pupil post-primary schools being built on a single campus in Maynooth due for completion in May 2019.
The €30m Maynooth job must now be retendered and the prospect of a longer wait has caused dismay among parents and the school staff.
The principals of Maynooth Community College and Maynooth Post Primary School, Siobhán McCauley and Johnny Nevin, have expressed their "extreme disappointment".
Education Minister Richard Bruton requested his officials to provide him with a critical path for the completion of this project - and asked them to consider how it could be delivered as quickly as possible.
A successful building company of more than 30 years, Sammon is a victim of the collapse, earlier this year, of the UK construction giant Carillion, with €8m owed to the Irish firm.
Sammon was part of an €87m joint venture with Carillion and the Dutch Infrastructure Fund (DIF) to build five schools and a college of education - in Bray, Wexford, Carlow and Kells - in a Public Private Partnership (PPP) deal.
Work on the PPP contract ceased following Carillion's collapse and, in April, three companies within the Sammon group entered into examinership.
Company founder and CEO Miceál Sammon said they were "devastated" at the appointment of a liquidator. He said they made every effort from the day Carillion collapsed to get the PPP contract restarted.
Mr Bruton said that the liquidation added additional complexity to the process of confirming the arrangements for completion of the PPP schools.
DIF said last night the Wexford school was awaiting final certification, and both schools in Bray were also very far advanced with small finishing works and certification remaining.
However, the schools in Kells and Carlow require substantially more work, as does the further education centre.
As well as the Maynooth job, separate from the PPPs Sammon was also contracted for projects at St Colman's Community College, Midleton, and Coláiste an Chraoibhin, Fermoy, both in Cork, which are already out for retender, as well as Gaelscoil Bharra, Cabra, Dublin, where outstanding work is expected to be completed in time for the start of the new school year.
Yesterday, Mr Justice Robert Haughton ordered the liquidation of two Sammon companies after the examiner Michael McAteer said he was unable to formulate proposals to allow them to survive. Mr McAteer will continue to act as examiner for the third company, Miceál Sammon Woodcraft Ltd.