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New school to open on time despite picket

A NEW school in Saggart will open on time, despite a picket by subcontractors alleging non-payment, the Department of Education & Skills (DES) has said.

Scoil Mhuire will welcome pupils on Monday after the building was handed over to the school board of management yesterday.

It came as a group of subcontract workers staged a two-day demonstration at the site, claiming they were owed money by the main contractor, ABM Design & Build.

But ABM refuted the allegation, saying the subcontractor Roadform Ltd has been "paid in full" as per their agreement.

A source, who did not wish to be named, told the Herald "there are a few lads picketing the site" because of the alleged non-payment by the main contractor.

However, the protest would not delay the opening of the school, he said.

"They are just doing a peaceful protest today. The schools are opening on Monday and they don't want to be the cause of delaying it," the source added.

A department spokeswoman said "a system of random audits on DES-funded building projects" was introduced last year.

"This is to ensure compliance with terms and conditions.

"(The) audits are conducted by service professionals. The inspections are robust, with non-compliance reported to the relevant authorities," she added.

ABM said: "The subcontractors claim for works completed until August 1 was for the value of €297,200.

"This has been paid in full since August 15, 2014.

"As per conditions of the contractor clause 11(g) the subcontractor is to submit its final account not later than five weeks after substantial completion. This project has not yet reached substantial completion.

"Furthermore as per the agreement made on June 12, 2014 the contractor is to be paid for works completed over five instalments," it added.

"Four of these have been made to date, with the last payment due two weeks after Roadform Ltd completes the works."

Roadform carried out works including putting in roads and drainage for the new school.

The exchequer is funding a massive school building programme, costing €2bn.

The programme was announced by former Education Minister Ruairi Quinn, who has been replaced by Jan O'Sullivan at Cabinet.