Tuesday, 19 November 2019

Ceisteanna (172, 173)

Thomas Byrne

Ceist:

172. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Education and Skills the breakdown of the €40 million spent to date on remediation works for schools built by a company (details supplied). [47279/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Thomas Byrne

Ceist:

173. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Education and Skills the timeline for the completion of the remediation works on schools built by a company (details supplied) at which works have not commenced; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47280/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 172 and 173 together.

Safety is the number one priority for my Department since the structural and fire safety issues, which are the subject matter of the Deputy’s Parliamentary Questions, arose and I am pleased to be able to inform him that significant progress has been made on the remediation programme for the 40 schools involved.

A substantial programme of remediation work took place during the summer months in relation to these 40 schools and plans are well advanced for the next phases of the programme.

Over the summer, permanent remediation work was carried out in 14 schools, which enabled the removal of precautionary measures from those schools in full. Partial structural remediation was carried out in another school. Structural remediation work for another 6 schools is advancing since October.

Planned detailed structural investigations were carried out in 17 schools over the summer months also and, based on engineering advice, precautionary measures and other engineering solutions were put in place in parts of 13 of those schools before they reopened after the summer holidays.

As well as this, a solution has been devised for Ardgillan Community College. The design phase for this work is progressing and the project will move to delivery when this is completed.

The bulk of the remainder of the Schools Remediation Programme is scheduled to be undertaken on a phased basis over 2020 and 2021 and work is well underway in my Department to underpin this. Details will continue to be communicated to the schools as my Department’s plans develop and progress.

About €40m has been spent this year up to the end of quarter 3 2019 on the remediation programme, covering the cost of investigations, precautionary measures, fire safety upgrades and structural repairs.

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.

I am unable to provide a further breakdown on this figure at this time to avoid compromising either the legal process underway to recover costs against the contractor involved or the planned public procurement process to carry out the remaining remediation work.

The Public Spending Code requires Government Departments to make contingency provision within their overall capital programme to meet any unforeseen demands or additional costs which might emerge for the capital programme as a whole.

In accordance with this requirement, the cost for the schools remediation programme is being met to date through a contingency provision as part of the increased 2019 capital budget of €942m and also from the reduced funding requirement for the multi-annual capital development in TU Dublin Grangegorman following the sale of DIT Kevin Street. This approach does not undermine our commitment to planned school construction projects being delivered over the course of 2018, 2019 and 2020 which will provide 70,000 school places and the 29 building projects being progressed at third level.

It is my Department’s intention to pursue the original contractor, using all available contractual and legal channels, for the cost of implementing precautionary measures and remediation works in each of the schools. Two cases are currently before the Commercial Court. Those are for Ardgillan Community College and Tyrrelstown Educate Together National School. My Department continues to liaise with the Chief State Solicitor’s Office and the Attorney General’s Office on the on-going legal process related to the 40 schools built by the contractor.