A Kildare school caught up in the controversy this year. Eamonn Farrell
school safety

Repair works cost State €40m after concerns over structural defects at schools

A total of 40 schools were caught up in the controversy over structural and fire safety deficiencies.

A TOTAL OF €40 million has been paid so far this year on remediation works on 40 schools constructed by Western Building Systems (WBS).

WBS is currently in a legal dispute with the State over the matter, with the firm previously stating that it will “vigorously contest” any litigation.

The Tyrone-based company, who were contracted to build a number of schools across the state by the government, were at the centre of a safety probe after it was revealed that inspections identified that a significant programme of remediation work was needed on a number of schools.

Giving an update on works being carried out on the schools, Education Minister Joe McHugh said much of the work took place during the summer 2019 in relation to the 40 schools in which structural and fire safety deficiencies were identified.

Structural remediation work has taken place on 14 schools bringing them up to the highest possible standard, said the minister.

The bulk of the remainder of the Schools Remediation Programme is scheduled to be undertaken on a phased basis over 2020 and 2021.

McHugh said his “absolute priority at all times has been the safety of students, staff and everyone using these school buildings”.

Outlining the costs to reporters today, he said:

“The cost to date is less than was initially estimated and this is largely due to the well-managed way in which the remediation programme has been handled.

“We don’t have an aggregated sum for the completed work when it’s finished, but up to now it’s €40 million, which is below what we were putting out in terms of expectations but the big challenge was time, and live settings with students in school which is why we had to maximise summer and holiday time.”

It is understood much of the money to pay for the works has come from the sale of DIT Kevin Street site. A spokesperson for the government said it would be pursuing WBS for the costs.

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