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Minister Bruton needs to take a hands on approach to the impact of the Carillion collapse – Funchion

2 February, 2018 - by Kathleen Funchion TD

Following the collapse of Carillion, Sinn Féin Spokesperson for Education Kathleen Funchion TD raised the issue in the Dáil.

Teachta Funchion said:

“The ability of the collapse of a private company in another jurisdiction two weeks ago having such a huge impact on the completion of Irish public school buildings is the direct result of Public Private Partnership and our schools or other public buildings cannot be at the mercy of the results of PPP going wrong.​

“The schools in question, which include Tyndall College, Carlow and the Carlow Institute of Further Education, need clarification from the Department of Education and the email sent to schools from the Department was vague, with no detail and did nothing to ease any concerns that parents, principals, teachers or most importantly students have.

“The schools in question are badly in need of new buildings, with some schools waiting years, decades even, in very poor conditions and they need assurance that they can still relocate to their new buildings as soon as was promised. Initial reports indicated that work has been postponed indefinitely at two sites at least, and that there are doubts over the status of others. Our schools cannot be left in limbo while multinational companies resolve their contractual obligations.

“The fact is that there are no longer contractors working at the site in Carlow since last week and all work has halted on that development which was 90% complete and is to cater for 2,000 students. When the news of Carillion’s collapse initially broke, reassurances were given that there would be no impact on the building works of these schools and last week the NDFA released a statement placing responsibility with shareholders and funders to ensure the buildings are completed.

“Obviously, this is not the case now with contractors withdrawing from sites and no update as to the action the other stakeholders are undertaking to ensure the completion of the project. Where does this leave the schools that are in dire need of a new school building? One of the schools has in fact been completed with a handover of keys expected on three different occasions and now this school faces an indefinite wait. The school had made arrangements on the basis that they would be in their new school by now are in untenable circumstances in an unsuitable school building.

“This is not good enough. The Minister and his Department have a responsibility to ensure that the buildings are now completed within the given time frames and further disruption is not caused to the schedules. That works would cease on these, and the other affected school buildings, for an unknown period of time as a result of Public Private Partnership is quite frankly a disgrace and our schools cannot be at the mercy of private companies like this.

“The economic fluctuations of private companies should have absolutely no bearing on our public buildings whatsoever, something which was recommended by the IMF in their November technical assistance report on public investment management assessment – where it is advised that restrictions could be imposed on some categories of PPPs particularly in the social sector for schools and hospitals.

“There is another PPP tender package to the value of €200 million for Higher Education other 11 colleges has been advertised and the closing date is February 12th. In light of the situation we find ourselves in, susceptible to this PPP arrangement which included Carillion, I urge the Minister to reassess this decision.

“The NDFA have released conflicting statements and information in relation to this issue and Minister Bruton needs to take a hands on approach and insist upon being involved in discussions; given how directly affected our schools are going to be by this issue and ensure the best interests of our students and schools are being met – not the best interests of a multi-national corporation.” 

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