EducationKells

Minister Doherty receives assurances on Eureka Secondary School, Kells

Project still on track despite liquidation of Carrilion

I am confident that the Eureka School, Kells, will proceed as planned, following a meeting with officials in the Oireachtas last week. I met with officials from the National Development Finance Agency (NDFA) and the Department of Education on Wednesday, to discuss the Eureka Secondary School in Kells, and how it is being affected by financial difficulties experienced by UK construction firm Carillion.

I shared the concern of many parents and children about the completion of their school, but having met the officials who are closest to the project, I feel much more assured.

“A priority now is to establish a roadmap for the completion of the construction works, and I understand that DIF (the lead company in the consortium) is doing just that, for the approval of the Department of Education and Skills. This involves the consideration of a range of options, and holding discussions with companies who can take over Carillion’s work. They include Sammon, a company that has been involved all along.

Carillion construction company gone into liquidation

The new Eureka Secondary School, Kells, is one of five schools that are being affected by the liquidation of Carillion. The company was contracted to build five schools and one further education college in Ireland, under a Public Private Partnership deal reached by the Department of Education and the National Development Finance Agency, which is part of the NTMA.

The school is at an advanced state of construction, and will provide places for 800 pupils. It is being built on a greenfield site secured under the Residential Institutions Redress Scheme at Townspark, Kells, on the Cavan Road. Planning permission was granted by Meath County Council in May 2014. That whole project is still on track.

No further payment to be made until the schools are operational

It is important to recognise that the State is in a strong position, and that DIF has a commercial interest in resolving the issues as quickly as possible. To date, around €100 million has been invested by the consortium in the five schools, but the only payment they have received from the State so far is €4 million for offsite works. No further payment will be made by the Department of Education and Skills until the schools are operational. That means the companies involved have every incentive to complete the schools as soon as possible.

The Eureka school forms part of the Department of Education and Skills’ Public Private Partnership (PPP) programme. This programme, which is part of the Government’s 2012 stimulus package, will provide six schools on four sites in Meath, Wicklow, Wexford and Carlow.

Senior officials from the Department and NDFA held a meeting on Friday 2 February with representatives from the management of the five schools. A further meeting with the schools’ management will take place in the Department’s offices in Tullamore on Tuesday 20 February.

I will remain in constant contact with my Cabinet colleague Richard Bruton and his officials to make sure that there will be no delay in the completion of the school in Kells.

Feel free to contact me on this or any other issue