Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Public Expenditure and Reform, Dara Calleary has said that any contractor found to have breached standards in governing fire and health and safety in the construction of school buildings for the State should be disregarded from consideration for new projects under the public procurement process.
Deputy Calleary was commenting after it emerged earlier this week that five recently built primary-schools in Dublin, Wicklow and Mullingar were found to be in breach of fire safety standards. The Fire safety audits had been commissioned by the Department of education and Skills.
“Nothing could be more fundamental than the health and wellbeing of our children, and nothing should jeopradise that. To learn that some schools which were constructed under State contract have now been found to have safety issues, will anger and upset many parents and taxpayers nationwide,” explained Calleary.
“This is an extremely serious matter that is particularly time sensitive. The Government must act quickly to determine the full extent of the problems associated with these breaches through an increase in inspection.
“I expect the Minister and his Department to produce a detailed timescale and cost of any remediation work that is required and to full set out how and when this will be undertaken.
He added,” It is my strong belief that the contracts that were awarded for the construction of these schools should be extensively reviewed to determine if the cost of the necessary remediation works could be footed by the builder rather than left to the taxpayer.
“Furthermore, any construction firm or contractor found to have breached fire safety standards in an attempt to cut corners should be debarred from applying for future State contracts.
“As part of the task to reform the public procurement process, significant restructuring should result in all related policy, strategy and sourcing issues to be centralised in a new Office of Government Procurement.
“I will be writing to Minister Donohue, who has the overall responsibility for reforming the public procurement process, to ask that all willfully negligent contractors be weeded out of the process as part of the new Office of Government Procurement.
“If his Department are to successfully meet its target to save up to €500m over the next three years, breaches such as this can not be repeated.
“Taxpayers should not be expected to face a situation where such contractors are able to avail of State contracts and public money in the future” concluded Calleary.