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Builder’s financial woes won’t halt hospital work

By Margaret Canning

A health trust has said work will continue on a new £270m hospital in Fermanagh despite the trading difficulties of one of the companies involved.

Well-known Cavan construction company P Elliott has laid off staff and closed a homeware store in the town.

Subsidiary P Elliott and Company (Northern Ireland) is part of the Northern Ireland Health Group which is working on the new acute South West Hospital in Fermanagh.

According to the Irish Times, the parent company is in talks with its bankers. It is also reported to be in talks with the Irish government over disputed payments for a Department of Defence building in Co Kildare.

No-one from the company was available for comment yesterday.

Joe Lusby, the deputy chief executive of the Western Health and Social Services Trust, said: “I and my colleagues within the Western Trust are sorry to learn of the reports of financial difficulties of one of the NIHG stakeholders.

“However, there are robust contractual arrangements in place to cover such an eventuality.

“We have been assured by NIHG that the difficulties experienced will not impact on the planned May 2012 construction completion date.”

He said Spanish company FCC, which is part of NIHG, was continuing to work on the site.

P Elliott in Northern Ireland owns a number of properties in Belfast. In 2006 the company and Glenkerrin Homes paid around £30m for Windsor House in Bedford Street — now thought to be worth about a third of that sum.

It also has a building in York Street, Belfast, with planning consent for office space and retail parks in Cavan and Navan.

The last accounts for its Northern Ireland business show retained losses of over £3m for the year ending December 31, 2009.\[Claire McAuley\]The accounts also say the company’s ability to continue as a going concern depends on support from its parent company and bankers.

The document also states that the parent firm provided a “letter of comfort” stating it can pay the debts of the Belfast firm as they fall due.

Background

Around 850 people have been working on the new South West Hospital on Irvinestown Road near Enniskillen since construction began two years ago.

The new hospital will replace Erne Hospital and will offer acute services including a 24-hour accident and emergency, critical care services, inpatient medicine and consultant-led maternity services.

In September 2008, consortium the Northern Ireland Health Group was appointed as preferred bidder to construct the new hospital. Members include P Elliott, Spanish company FCC, Allied Irish Bank, Interserve plc and FCC Elliott.

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