PICKETERS SAY ¤3.2 MILLION IS STILL OWED Contractors stage protest outside hotel
CONTRACTORS STILL owed an alleged total of up to ¤3.2 million for work on the building of White's Hotel in Wexford two years ago, staged a wellpublicised picket on the Abbey Street building last week.
The protest was held on Thursday evening last to coincide with the opening festivities of Wexford Festival Opera which drew 20,000 people into the town.
As opera-goers in evening dress exited the landmark hotel, contractors wearing yellow-building site jackets and carrying placards, walked up and down outside.
About 60 sub-contractors and suppliers claim they are owed amounts ranging from approximately ¤10,000 to ¤500,000 for work on the hotel which opened in August 2006.
The biggest amount is owed to the Wexford-based national construction company, Cleary and Doyle who were the main contractors on the hotel project. Cleary and Doyle have also just completed the building of Wexford's new Opera House.
Balmaford Ltd, a company associated with White's Hotel faces legal action to enforce a judgment for ¤3.29 million issued in the High Court in Dublin last July.
Cleary and Doyle Contracting Ltd won the judgment against Balmaford Ltd in an uncontested case in which the building company said it and 60 sub-contractors were owed the money.
In a statement issued after the protest, Cleary and Doyle said it would be taking further legal action to have the money paid.
The sub-contractors are represented by Barry English, managing director of Winthrop which was one of the sub-contractors on the hotel building.
'The construction industry has lost one fifth of its workforce this year alone and last week, the CIF projected a further 70,000 redundancies in the next year', he said.
'Non-payment of a bill of this size would mean the difference between a company surviving the economic downturn or closing its doors', he said.
Mr. English described Cleary and Doyle as 'good, decent contractors'.
He said the sub-contractors were planning a concerted and prolonged campaign to highlight their case, including picketing other hotels owned by investors in the scheme as well as their homes.
A public meeting of the businesses which are owed money, is due to be held in Wexford this week.
Balmaford Ltd. entered into a contract with Cleary and Doyle for the construction of the fourstar hotel.
The hotel is operated by White's Hotel Ltd which has the same directors as Balmaford, listed in the Companies Office.
These are Michael Burke, Strandside South, Dungarven, Co. Waterford; Liam Clancy, Finner, Bundoran, Co, Donegal and James White, Danby House, Ballyshannon, Co.Donegal.
Whites of Wexford issued a statement following the protest in which it stated that Cleary and Doyle was responsible for the payment of each and every one of the sub-contractors.
It said Cleary and Doyle, a multi-national company with turnover in excess of ¤100 million was the main contractor involved in the development of Whites and was responsible for the employment of all sub-contractors.
The statement claimed there was no court order in favour of Cleary and Doyle in existence against Whites of Wexford.
'At no stage did any court order that Whites of Wexford make any payments to the independent sub-contractors in relation to this project', the statement continued.
'Whites of Wexford is not aware of any proceedings issued against it by any of the sub-contractors in relation to this project'.
'The management and staff of Whites of Wexford wish to carry on in their service to the local and national community and would hope that the grievances of these protestors could be dealt with in the correct forum', the statement concluded.
Cleary and Doyle also issued a statement confirming that they and over 60 sub-contractors are owed a total of ¤3.291 million by Balmaford Ltd.
'Cleary Doyle Contracting Ltd referred the matter to the High Court and secured a High Court judgment no 1615S for ¤3.291 million in July 2008 against Balmaford Ltd. which has not been paid yet'.
'Cleary Doyle Contracting Ltd is currently pursuing payment of the court judgment through the courts on behalf of themselves and the sub contractors'.