independent

Sunday 20 May 2018

Cleaners hit for €80,000 call for action

David Looby

The new Loreto school which currently lies vacant
The new Loreto school which currently lies vacant
Enda Whelan

A Wexford business stung for almost €80,000 from the collapse of two construction companies in recent years has called for protection for businesses.

Enda Whelan of Whelan Cleaners made the call having received a letter from Sammon Construction recently stating that an examiner had been appointed to the company which is owed €8m from the collapse of UK construction giant Carillion; money owed for work school projects, including in Wexford town.

On April 5 the High Court granted Sammon Contracting Group protection from its creditors and appointed Michael McAteer of Grant Thornton as interim examiner to the business. Miceál Sammon, the contractor's founder and chief executive, confirmed after the hearing that Carillion's liquidation had forced his company into examinership.

'Sammon will continue to trade as usual during the period of examinership which is intended to ensure that we can work our way out of current difficulties,' he said.

Inspired Spaces hired Carillion Construction Ltd, part of the plc, to build the schools in Carlow, Meath, Wexford and Wicklow. That company subcontracted the work to Sammon and agreed to pay the Irish business every month.

Mr McDonald's report states that the work would ultimately have been worth €100 million to Sammon Contracting and contributed €40 million of the company's turnover in 2016 and €52 million last year.

Enda said his company won a tender to clean the new Loreto secondary school building in Killeens, Wexford town. They were paid for cleaning the school between October and late November, but are at a loss of just under €30,000 for work carried out during a 're-clean' requested by the company in December and January.

Sammon had to withdraw from the work on the five schools and one institute of education in the contract - dubbed Schools Bundle Five - following Carillion's collapse, which meant construction stalled.

Up to ten Whelan Cleaners staff members worked on the Killeens site.

'Sammon paid the initial contract up to Christmas. Then they requested a re-clean.'

The company is run by Enda and Paul Whelan and was founded 35 years ago by their father Jim.

'We were due to be paid for December and January when Carillion went bust.'

Enda said his company could get less than €3,000, having been informed by Miceal Sammon that there was absolutely no risk that the project would not be completed.

'We don't want history to repeat itself. Seven years ago when Pierse Construction went bust, we were cleaners on the new County Hall and the Department of Environment buildings. During the recession we lost some money on smaller projects as well.'

'We are calling on our local TDs and politicians for legislation to be passed by the Government to protect sub contractors for now and going forward. Our experience has been of history repeating itself. Previous governments have promised that sub contractors would be protected but nothing was done. We are left hanging now.'

Whelan Cleaners are among several Wexford based companies expected to lose out in the Sammon examinership. One Irish company is potentially at a loss of over €300,000.

'There is no protection whatsoever. We are a proactive company. The company (Sammon) didn't have the best reputation in the world but are we not to bid for tenders?

'Our business has been growing steadily and we are just after buying a new premises at Westpoint Business Park and we upgraded our fleet this year. All our suppliers have been paid and so has Revenue.'

Enda believes sub contractors are resigned to losing money.

Wexford People

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