independent

Saturday 17 November 2018

Firms not paid for work carried out

Maria Pepper

Wexford firms which are owed hundreds of thousands of euro in total for work carried out on the new secondary school, held a meeting last week to discuss their plight as the Department of Education announced that another building firm has been appointed to finish the job.

Companies and trades people who lost out financially when sub-contractor Sammon went into examinership and later liquidation, outlined their case to Labour Party leader Brendan Howlin who has been making representations on their behalf to the Natiional Development Finance Agency.

There are an estimated 400 nationwide creditors of Sammon Contracting Group which was forced into examinership after the main contractors UK construction giant Carillion went into liquidation, and they are owed an estimated total of €14 million for work on the PPP 5 Bundle school project.

Approximately 40 of the creditors have gone bust over the past four months in a knock-on effect from the Carillion collapse, according to Enda Whelan of Whelan Cleaning Systems in Wexford who is owed €30,000 for a cleaning contract on the Loreto school last January before the building was originally due to be handed over by Sammon to the Department of Education.

'I would say that there are 30 to 40 small firms in Wexford which are at a financial loss as a result of this. That would include a lot of different trades, painters, fabricators, light engineering and so on', said Enda.

Whelan Cleaning won a tender to clean the new school and were paid for work carried out between October and late November 2017 but are at a loss of approximately €30,000 for a re-clean requested by the company in December and January last.

Mr. Whelan raised questions about the ability of the new contractor to certify work carried out on the building by other tradesmen and sub-contractors.

'There is a lot of certification of work still to be done, including electrical and light engineering work. It's not fit for purpose until the certification is carried out. Even if a new contractor comes in, how can they certify work that other people carried out. Some of it may not even be accessible as its under floor boards or behind walls', he said.

'We would say there is a question mark about this. We had a meeting last night. We're delighted that there is good news about the school. A lot of the contractors have children going into the school in September or already have children who are students there.'

'We don't have an issue with the Loreto but at the same time, there is more to it than just the opening of the school. People haven't been paid for work that they did', he said.

Welcoming the appointment of a new contractor, Deputy Howlin confirmed that he met with sub-contractors from around the country including Wexford who have been left out of pocket as a result of the Carillion and Sammon collapses.

He gave a commitment to raise the issue direcly with the National Development Finance Agency, to ascertain if there is any way that they could be paid for the work done. 'Obviously we want to see the school open but at the same time, there is concern for the sub-contractors who have unfairly suffered financial loss as a result of what happened', said the Wexford TD. It's the second time that Whelan Cleaning has lost out financially following the collapse of a building firm. The company was a contractor on the new County Hall when Pierse Construction went bust seven years ago and was left with a €50,000 bill.

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