Teachers, parents and politicians have welcomed a breakthrough in the protracted saga over the opening of the new Loreto school at Killeens with an announcement by Education Minister Richard Bruton that another contractor has been appointed to complete works on six schools around the country which were halted by the recent collapse of building group Carillion.
Mr. Bruton was informed by Dutch Infrastructure Fund (DIF) and the Project Lenders that Woodvale Construction has won the replacement contract to re-start the building projects in Wexford, Carlow, Meath and Wicklow.
DIF said Woodvale would complete the three most advanced buildings including Loreto Wexford by the end of August while work on the other three schools is expected to be finished by the end of next December.
The company based in Omagh, County Tyrone saw off bids from other building firms Sisk, JJ Rhatigan and BAM to win the contract.
'The arrangements which follow a re-tendering process provide for a contractor to be mobilised in the coming days and for work to re-commence on site in the coming weeks', said Minister Bruton last week.
'Today's announcement is a key milestone in a phased restructuring package in relation to the arrangements for the completion of all six buildings', he said.
The completion of the schools was delayed due to the liquidation of Carrillion Construction Ltd in January of this year and the subsequent examinership and liquidation of Carillion's sub-contractor Sammon.
'The confirmation from DIF and the project lenders regarding the appointment of a replacement contractor provides a clear pathway forward for the completion of all the schools in Schools Buncle 5 PPP Project', he said.
The Minister said the Carrillion liquidation and resulting uncertainty around completion dates for the project has been very challenging for the school communities involved.
'The clarity on timelines presented by DIF and the lenders is very welcome. I would like, in particular, to acknowledge the ongoing commitment and collaboration of the school authorities,staff and students in working through the challenges caused by the delays in completion of their new buildings', he said. 'The arrangements now being put in place are the product of intensive work by many parties in what has been a very complex set of circumstances.'
'I would like to thank DIF and the project lenders for their co-operation through this process and to acknowledge, in particular, the work of the National Development Finance Agency in representing the interests of the State and the school communities'. The Dutch Infrastructure Fund terminated the agreement they had with Sammon in relation to the care and maintenance of the sites and put their own security and building management measures in place to ensure the continued safekeeping of the facilities during the delay period. Minister of State Paul Kehoe said the collapse of Carrillion has caused extreme distress for the staff and parents of pupils attending the school. 'This has been a huge priority of mine- for the benefit of the students of this great school - and I'm delighted to finally have some good news', he said this week as he relayed Minister Bruton's announcement.