Wednesday 20 February 2019

Fermoy Coláiste extension must be made a priority

Education Minster urged to act swiftly to avoid any further delays to the €5.9 million project

The almost completed extension at Coláiste an Chraoibhín in Fermoy
The almost completed extension at Coláiste an Chraoibhín in Fermoy

Bill Browne

New and detailed proposals for the completion of the multi-million Euro extension to Coláiste an Chraoibhín in Fermoy must be put in place as soon as possible so as to avoid any further delays to the project. 

That's according to Fianna Fail Cork county councillor Padraig O'Sullivan, who said that there is now a genuine concern within the local community that the new building will not be ready to open in time for the new school year in September. 

Since the sod on the new €5.9 million extension was turned in November 2015, the project has been dogged by delays, with work coming to a complete stop last month after it emerged the construction company undertaking the project had gone into examinership.

The High Court's appointment of an interim examiner to the Kildare-based Sammon Contracting Group came about following the liquidation of the UK firm Carillion, which had hired the Irish company to build several educational facilities in Ireland. 

Work also ground to a standstill at  the other projects around the country being undertaken by Sammon, including the extension to St Colman's College in Midleton. 

While the news was greeted with much concern in Fermoy, the Cork Education and Training Board (CETB) said it had commenced the process of re-tendering for the completion of the project with the Department of Education and Skills design team to "expedite the process to ensure the school extension would be completed".

CETB chief executive Ted Owens was unable to say when work on the Fermoy project would recommence, However, he did say it was the boards intention to get the project completed "as soon as possible." 

While the extension is understood to be more than 90% complete, a thorough assessment of the building will have to be undertaken before work can restart in order to ensure it complies with safety standards and regulations. 

Cllr O'Sullivan, who was recently added to the party's ticket to contest the next general election in Cork East alongside sitting TD Kevin O'Keeffe, is a teacher at Coláiste an Chraoibhín. 

He called on Education Minister Richard Bruton to immediately set out a "detailed plan" to put the Fermoy project is put back on track. 

"We need to see strong action from the Minister to ensure there are no further delays to this extension. This whole saga also highlights the need for a better system to make sure that subcontractors get paid for the work they carry out on State funded projects," said Cllr O'Sullivan. 

He said Minister Bruton needed to set out exactly what his Department was doing to get the project moving again. 

"This simply cannot be allowed to drag on indefinitely, said Cllr O'Sullivan. 

"It has been nearly  six months since the collapse of Carillion and while we all hoped that the Sammon Group could get through this crisis intact, Minister Bruton should have, nonetheless, been preparing a contingency plan," he added.