Belfast Telegraph

Tyrone firm's bill for school works in Republic of Ireland runs at €40m

Update: Joe McHugh
Update: Joe McHugh

By Katherine Donnelly

The bill for the remediation programme for schools in the Republic built by a Co Tyrone company caught up in controversy over building safety is running at €40m (£34.3m) to date.

That is the cost for structural assessments conducted over the past year, precautionary measures such as scaffolding and fencing, repairs and fire safety upgrades carried out so far.

Irish Education Minister Joe McHugh will update his ministerial colleagues on progress at today's Cabinet meeting.

Some 40 schools, all built by the Co Tyrone-based contractor Western Building Systems (WBS), are involved in the remediation programme.

The Irish Department of Education ordered structural safety assessments after concerns arose in the course of a separate programme of fire safety checks at a number of WBS-built schools.

The department said "significant structural issues" came to light at Ardgillan Community College in Balbriggan, Co Dublin during fire safety remediation work last autumn. A section of Ardgillan remains closed while a plan is developed to allow for its re-opening.

Of the 22 schools where precautionary measures were put in place last year, remediation work has been completed in 14, and will get under way in the other eight in the new year.

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In another 17 schools, detailed structural investigations carried out over the summer threw up a range of deficiencies that require work which will be addressed.

The department has initiated a number of High Court cases against WBS, which says it will "vigorously contest" the actions. The company also said it will pursue the department for outstanding payments relating to 10 schools previously certified by inspectors.

WBS has consistently maintained that each of 42 schools assessed by the department last autumn was "previously certified for completion as being free from defects and suitable for use by the department and its employed professionals".

Belfast Telegraph

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