Kilfinane sub-contractors fight for full payment

Donal O’Regan

Reporter:

Donal O’Regan

THE DAY after the stand-off in Kilfinane school sub-contractors received a bank draft for 40 per cent from the main builders accountants.

THE DAY after the stand-off in Kilfinane school sub-contractors received a bank draft for 40 per cent from the main builders accountants.

They say that only for going into the school after children left last Thursday and removing the fixtures and fittings they would still be waiting for any payment.

They worked late into the night to restore everything and the school reopened on Friday morning. The actions of the sub-contractors has turned into a national issue and was raised in the Dail on Thursday night.

Ger Rice, who supplied all the joinery, was owed €21,000.

“Other sub-contractors contacted me from around the country – you just can’t get the final payment. They keep stringing you along. Once they have all the material on site they have everything and you can go whistle for your money. It’s a widespread problem.

“We worked until midnight on Thursday reinstating everything. When the kids came in Friday morning they were none the wiser really. I wasn’t taking it out on the school – it just happened that my goods were in the school. It was a last resort,” said Mr Rice.

Mike Browne, electrical contractor, lost €20,000 when the previous main builder went in to liquidation.

After getting the 60 per cent of the €14,000 owed from the current work he is still down over €25,000.

The sub-contractors are due to get a further 20 per cent this Friday. They will then continue to strive for the remaining 40 per cent.

DPB Construction issued a statement which expressed their disappointment by the actions of a few sub-contractors.

“The sub-contractors involved in the Kilfinane school project have received substantial payments to date and the company was involved in negotiation to settle outstanding final monies and work related matters,” it read. They say the matter is now closed.

Three of the sub-contractors met with Michael Martin and Niall Collins last Friday night

“I haven’t heard one word of criticism from people in Kilfinane who have contacted me. They are fully understanding of their plight. It isn’t right that they had to resort to doing this,” said Mr Collins.

Mr Martin brought up the Construction Contracts Bill 2010 in the Dail. It has been passed in the Seanad and “protects sub-contractors from the main contractor defaulting payment”.

Deputy Patrick O’Donovan also spoke in the Dail.

“I’ve asked the Minister of Education to introduce a scheme where all of the money for a project be lodged into a bank account, and only cheques payable on that project would be drawable from that bank account. In other words if there was a project bank account for Kilfinane only cheques in relation to Kilfinane could to be drawn out,” said Mr O’Donovan.