12 Aug 2022

'I'd go to jail over trying to get paid,' says Carlow sub-contractor hit by Sammon Group collapse

Blockades are not out of the question, he says

Carlow Carlow Carlow

The unfinished Tyndall College in Carlow

A local sub-contractor - left out of pocket by over €100,000 for works done on the Tyndall College School in Carlow - says he would go to jail over trying to get paid what he is owed. 

Pat Smith of Smith Groundworks and Engineering was speaking to Carlow Live after works came to a halt on the school last January when the UK-based Carillion Construction - which had sub-contracted the works - went bust.

The Irish company, Sammon, had been sub-contracted by Carillion to carry out the building work on its behalf as part of the Public Private Partnership, but Sammon then went into liquidation in June. 

Mr Smith - who is owed approximately €106,000 - says the Government insisted that local sub-contractors be used so the project would be beneficial to Carlow. 

He added that now those local companies who had been working on the site are owed substantial amounts of money. 

"I'll get my money, someone has to pay us for the work we've done. I'd go to jail over trying to get paid. Blockades are not out of the question," Mr Smith said. 

Other schools affected by the collapse in the South East could be opened by as early as next month after a new contractor was appointed, but the Carlow man added: "We'll be requesting too that teachers' unions and their members in Bray and Wexford do not cross the school lines."

Last month, it was also stated that the Carlow schools affected by the collapse of Sammon Construction will now be completed in December. 

Appearing before the Oireachtas Finance Committee on July 26, David Corrigan – Head of Project Management at the National Development Finance Agency - confirmed that the replacement contractor, Woodvale, will undertake a survey and preliminary works during the summer in Carlow. 

He said this will provide a detailed scope of works to enable the contract arrangements to be finalised for the completion of these schools by the end of December.

Mr Smith does not believe the school will be completed by then, he said: "I have all the drawings, all the certifications, all the surveys for the site, they (Woodvale) need to talk to me but they haven't even contacted me. 

"They need to sit down with lads that have been there. Woodvale need to speak with us but they won't. The Government needs to issue a directive to them to negotiate a deal with all the sub-contractors involved. There's no common sense. 

"Woodvale are from Northern Ireland, how are their staff going to get work permits with Brexit looming? There's a lot of work left to be done in Carlow. 

"Give us our 5% retention and we'll work along with Woodvale. My retention from Sammon is nearly €50,000, at this stage we are willing to talk."

In the contract, every 5% of Mr Smith's pay cheque was held back and then when the job was completed it would have been paid back in full. 

The collapse of Sammon affected several school projects and the new contractors are now on three sites, and the Loreto College in Wexford and Coláiste Raithín and St Philomena’s Primary School, in Bray, Wicklow – are on track to be completed by August and open in September.

Three further buildings are scheduled to be finished by December – these include Eureka Secondary School, Kells, Meath, Tyndall College in Carlow, and Carlow College of Further Education.

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