EDUCATION Minister Ruairi Quinn said ongoing “legal processes” prevented him from commenting on detail on the stalled €5.5 million redevelopment of Ardscoil Ris after the builders responsible, Cordil Construction, went into receivership.
Work ground to a halt two weeks ago with the company commenting that it was owed “substantial monies” from Government departments for work that had been completed. The Department of Education commented in relation to a number of school-building contracts won by Cordil that “all payments that were due to be paid under the contracts have been paid to date”.
And Ardscoil Ris principal Brid de Brun commented at the time of the stoppage that the school had “met, in full and on time, all of their contractual and financial commitments to Cordil”,
Minister Quinn visited Limerick on Thursday, the same day that Cordil announced a receiver had been appointed by ACC Bank.
“My heart goes out to anybody who is in that situation quite frankly...Cordil is in a difficult situation, I don’t currently know the up-to-date status, but they effectively suspended work on a number of sites a couple of weeks ago,” he said.
“A whole set of legal processes kick in once a contract is put on suspension - which is what has happened and to the best of my knowledge. Cordil have about five or six contracts around the country. I really wouldn’t want to make any comment in relation to it as they are in a new process of discussion and negotiation and I really don’t want to complicate it.”
The Mid-West branch of the Construction Industry federation has called on the Government to reform how it structures its tendering competitions for state contracts, claiming that their current structure encourage below cost tendering which can cause companies to run into difficulty and subcontractors out-of- pocket.
“There is no obligation to take the lowest tender, I am a professional architect by background myself and I am familiar with the tendering process,” Minister Quinn commented
“There has to be an expectation on the part of the client ie the Department of Education that the tender price is a realistic price and that the contractor has the ability to deliver it. Other than that I don’t want to say very much about it because these matters are not yet resolved.”
Cordil described competition for state building contracts as “intense”. Lack of credit, a dip in turnover and “the extra demand for operating capital as a result of the new Government form of contract conditions” had contributed to a receiver being appointed.