Wednesday, 4 July 2018

Questions (64)

Maureen O'Sullivan


64. Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Education and Skills if his attention has been drawn to the need to fully complete the building project at a school (details supplied) including addressing heating and water systems and so on; if correspondence has been received from the school; his plans to liaise with a local sports club on parking and playing space; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29217/18]

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Oral answers (5 contributions) (Question to Education)

This question relates to Gaelscoil Bharra in Cabra. The school building was handed over for occupation on 1 September 2017. However, as part of the contract for the project, some outstanding works remain to be completed at the adjacent Naomh Fionnbarra GAA Club, including completion of the all-weather pitch and car park reinstatement work. There are also a number of snags to be resolved in the school building, including issues with the heating system.

The design team had been in regular contact with Sammon since handing over the building in an attempt to get the snags resolved and the siteworks completed, but in spite of many promises from the contractor, particularly over recent months, no significant progress was forthcoming.

On 5 April 2018 Sammon entered into examinership and on 5 June the company was placed into liquidation. The Department then terminated the contract with Sammon Contracting under clause 12 of the public works contract.

There is a performance bond in place for this project and the Department has instructed the design team to liaise with the bondsman with the intention of calling on the bond to cover the costs of finishing out the works. The design team has been asked to produce a detailed scope of works which, as there is a live bond in place for this contract, can be used to request the bondsman to have the works completed without the need for a public tender process. This would be the quickest way of getting the works completed. If the bondsman is not prepared to complete the works then the design team will tender for a completion contractor to carry out the works and the remediation of the outstanding snags. Then the bill will be presented to the bondsman.

The people in Gaelscoil Bharra were in unsuitable prefabs for over 20 years. They suffered from the usual prefab problems in that it was too hot in the summer and too cold in the winter. I wish to acknowledge the work of the principal and the staff in working and surviving in those conditions for over 20 years.

Some months ago I visited the new school. It is state of the art and the atmosphere is completely different. It is a wonderful school. It has wonderful premises and everything is going well there. The official opening was only a couple of weeks ago. It is really a shame that the outstanding works have been allowed to go on for so long. The danger with outstanding works is that if they are not addressed urgently, quickly and promptly then they drag on and on. That would be a shame for this wonderful school. Those involved have the building they had been waiting on for so long. They are at the mercy of something that had nothing to do with them. What can be done now to progress this and to see it remedied as a matter of urgency?

The outstanding works concern Naomh Fionnbarra, the adjoining GAA club. The approach is that the bondsman has a liability. The quickest way to get the works done is if the bondsman exercises the right to bring in contractors and completes the work. The alternative would be more bureaucratic. It would involve the Department tendering for the works. We would then get it done and present the bill to the bondsman. We are trying the quicker and less bureaucratic way to get this done. That is the approach we are taking. I have been contacted by a former Deputy who is chairman of the club in question and so I know the level of concern.

It is a shame because the facilities outside with the GAA club are left idle during the summer. We have beautiful weather and they could be used by the community and youth projects. As the Minister is aware, the Department is committed to the use of school facilities outside school time. Is there anything else the Minister can do with the bondsman to hurry up the process? Can anything be done with the GAA club and the school so that the facilities can be in full use and so that this will not drag on after the summer?

That is exactly what the design team is seeking to do. They are looking to do it in the quickest possible way. We await.

Question No. 65 replied to with Written Answers.