Work halted at Belfast's Ulster University campus as firms enter administration
Construction has stopped at the £250m Ulster University project in Belfast with dozens of workers laid off, the Belfast Telegraph can reveal.
Work came to a halt on the building of the new campus on Monday, with one contractor saying he now had 14 members of staff at home with nothing to do.
The building of the campus has been dogged by legal troubles and contractual disputes between the university and Lagan Somague, a joint venture between Northern Ireland building firm Lagan Construction Group and Portuguese firm Somague.
But Lagan Construction Group, led by Michael Lagan, last week announced it was putting four of its companies into administration - including the firm which was involved in the joint venture university construction.
However, the university yesterday said it's in talks with Somague on the project.
"The university is consulting with Somague as necessary to progress delivery of the project.
"We await the formal appointment of an administrator to the relevant Lagan companies."
One contractor, who employs a large number of workers on the site, said he was shocked to hear news of the administration of Lagan Construction Group when on holiday last week.
"I'm taken aback by it all and I'm not happy. I only heard about it with a phone call from some colleagues when I was on holiday."
Somague was not available for comment yesterday - however, it is understood the company is keen to take on the completion of the contract. But one property insider said he believed Somague would still need a partner. "I understand that Somague would struggle to deliver without a new agreement to supply labour and expertise."
The Belfast Telegraph can reveal that accountancy firm KPMG is to be appointed administrator to the four Lagan Construction Group companies in a High Court hearing tomorrow.
The administrators are then set to enter crunch talks with Somague on whether the firm is in a position to proceed with the job. Yesterday, major Northern Ireland construction firm Graham said it had not been approached. There was no comment from contractor O'Hare and McGovern.