Wednesday 17 October 2018

Work on new school comes to a halt after row about 'quality'

The halted development on Haddington Road, Dublin. Photo: Caroline Quinn
The halted development on Haddington Road, Dublin. Photo: Caroline Quinn
Katherine Donnelly

Katherine Donnelly

A €5m new school building project has come to a halt after a lengthy dispute which the Department of Education claims was about quality.

The contractor, Manley Construction, Co Meath, agreed to withdraw from the job two weeks ago, after a formal conciliation process.

The 24-classroom, St Christopher's primary school, Haddington Road, Dublin, was supposed to open last month, but it will be at least another two years before it welcomes pupils.

The site has been idle for months, while pupils are crammed into prefabs. St Christopher's is an amalgamation of existing boys' and girls' schools and pupils are already wearing the uniform for the new co-ed.

An artist’s impression of the new school
An artist’s impression of the new school

Building work started in December 2015 and, according to the department, throughout the project its own design team raised issues in relation to quality and lack of progress with works.

Dublin City Council inspectors also raised "quality concerns".

Last October, the council wrote to the department expressing "serious concerns" about compliance with regulations relating to structure, materials and workmanship. The letter also noted "concerns and deficiencies" relating to drainage and waste water disposal, and fuel and energy conservation.

The department has paid over about one-third of the contract price.

A spokesperson for Manley Construction said that while it acknowledged "that issues arose as part of the project delivery, the dispute did not relate to the quality of the work or timeline for project delivery".

"There were a number of contractual issues that developed as part of the project, culminating in a contractual conciliation dispute process."

According to the department, during the course of the dispute, Manley put in 13 claims totalling in excess of €900,000, but ultimately exited the job waiving an entitlement to the additional sums claimed.

In July, the department invoked a clause covering an employer's right to terminate a contract. An independent conciliator was appointed and, according to the department, there was an agreement last month that the contractor would withdraw and waive any entitlements to the additional sums. Manley left the site on October 9.

Manley also disputes the department's version of the conciliation agreement and said it did "not accurately reflect the agreement reached between the parties".

A tender process for a replacement contractor will get under way in the new year.

Irish Independent

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