Tuesday 15 October 2019

Remediation work begins on 22 schools caught up in structural safety controversy

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar TD visiting the schools . Photo: Mark Condren
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar TD visiting the schools . Photo: Mark Condren
Safety row: Building work at Tyrellstown Educate Together National School in Dublin
Katherine Donnelly

Katherine Donnelly

Remediation works start tomorrow on schools caught up in the structural safety controversy last autumn.

The programme covers 22 schools built by the same contractor, the Co Tyrone-based Western Building Systems (WBS).

The remediation works will get underway in 14 schools initially and will roll over to the remaining eight, with a view to getting as much work as possible done before the end of August.

Information sessions have been held for principals, management and patrons of the 22 schools and each has been given a brief on the detail of the permanent remediation works to be carried out.

Last October, the Department of Education ordered structural safety assessments at 42 schools built by WBS after concerns arose.  Arising from that, precautionary measures were implemented in 22 schools, pending remediation work.

Alongside the remediation programme, the Department of Education is also carrying out detailed structural investigations of another 17 schools built by WBS but which did not require initial precautionary measures.

A separate approach has been taken to address the structural issues in Ardgillan Community College, Balbriggan, Dublin, part of which remains closed.

Education Minister Joe McHugh said “safety remains our number one priority. We targeted the summer holidays to get as much of the structural work done as we can, so that the precautionary measures can be removed from the schools as soon as the permanent works are completed.”

The Minister also said that he was commissioning an independent review of current practices in the Design and Build (D&B) model for the delivery of schools, or other similar public buildings, internationally.

The intention is that the report of the review  will be published before the end of the year.

WBS has consistently maintained that each of the 42 schools was “previously certified for completion as being free from defects and suitable for use by the Department and its employed professionals”. 

The Department of Education countered this assertion by stating that a   certificate of completion is not a certificate of compliance with building control regulations.

Mr McHugh has initiated a number of High Court actions against WBS, while WBS has initiated legal action seeking the final payments due on a number of school building projects.

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