Fianna Fáil Education Spokesperson, Thomas Byrne has said that Minister for Education, Richard Bruton must act swiftly and decisively with regard to the five schools that have been left in limbo following the collapse of Carillion.
Deputy Byrne commented, “Five schools across the country are completely unsure as to what will happen to their building projects, and to their future maintenance services.
“Catering and maintenance staff members in these schools were planning to change their employment terms and come under the remit of Carillion. This will now not happen, and their futures must be protected as quickly as possible by the Minister. Equally, sub-contractors employed by Carillion need to know what is happening with these projects.
“One school, in my own constituency of Meath East, Eureka Secondary School in Kells, is due to open in a matter of weeks, but as a result of the difficulties at Carillion, there is doubt as to when it might happen , and who will provide the facilities management and catering services in the school.
“There are, I believe, two options available to Minister Bruton to end the uncertainty for these schools, the parents, and pupils. The first option is for the State to take over the running of the non-academic services in these schools, similar to what takes place in most schools in the country. This is the easiest and quickest option.
“The second option is for the State to go out to tender again, and to seek expressions of interest from other private contractors for the running of these services. This is not an option that is conducive to ending the uncertainty for these school communities, and one I do not favour. New schools are ready to open; they cannot wait any longer.
“Decisiveness from Minister Bruton is desperately needed now to alleviate the anxiety and concerns of these schools. In the longer term, if the State is to make greater use of public private partnerships in terms of building and servicing new schools, safeguards must be put in place to ensure that, above all else, the students are not affected when private businesses fail,” concluded Byrne.