Belfast Telegraph

Why Northern Ireland ended up with just five big Olympic contracts

By Tom Moseley

The number of lucrative Olympics contracts awarded to Northern Ireland firms remains at just five — compared to almost 800 for London and more than 250 for the south east of England.

But the value of the contracts is comparatively high compared to several other regions.

Ministers say they are unable to “sprinkle” deals around to ensure the benefits extend UK-wide.

This is despite the Government insisting that the legacy of the long-awaited Games, which are launched next Friday, will extend throughout the country.

The total number of core contracts — those made directly with the Olympic Delivery Authority — awarded to Northern Ireland companies is five. It is 18 in Wales and 258 in south east England.

Olympics Minister Hugh Robertson revealed the latest breakdown, correct as of July 3, in a Parliamentary answer to Welsh MP Hywel Williams.

Local success stories include Lagan Construction to build the central bridge in the Olympic Park, and the Co Antrim-based McGrath Group, for architectural metal work on the stadium.

While this is, by far, the lowest number of ‘tier one’ contracts of any UK region, their total value came to almost £21m — dwarfing the £4.5m boost to the Welsh economy, and ahead of the south west and north east of England.

London-based firms secured 799 contracts, worth £3.8bn.

Mr Robertson insisted: “Clearly when we looked at the contracts, and the contracts were awarded in the early stage of the build, you can't sprinkle them around the UK to make sure each region gets a fair share. What you have to do is award those on a strictly competitive basis.”

Northern Ireland has also fared better further down the supply chain, securing non-core contracts worth more than £40m.

Yesterday Invest NI said it could not provide a list of companies that had secured Olympics contracts, as they were made to sign confidentiality agreements with the Olympic Delivery Authority.

However, other successful bidders are known to include the McAvoy Group, in Dungannon, and Macrete Concrete, Co Antrim, for parapet support structures for the bridges and roads on the Olympic Park.

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