The joint venture charged with building several new schools in the State has secured a temporary High Court injunction preventing subcontractors blockading the sites of the new facilities.
The injunction was granted to Inspired Spaces Bundle 5 (Ireland) Ltd, a joint venture with the UK firm Carillion and the Dutch Infrastructure Fund which secured a tender from the State to build five schools and an Institute of Further Education. It is against subcontractors who claim they have not been paid for works they carried out at the various sites.
Earlier this year Carillion collapsed into administration, which resulted in the Irish construction firm the joint venture hired to build the schools, Sammon Contracting Ireland Ltd, going into liquidation.
Several subcontractors who carried out works on the schools including painting landscaping and electrical works, say they have not been paid money owed to them for works they have done on the projects following Sammon’s liquidation.
A replacement contractor, Woodvale, has been appointed by Inspired Spaces to facilitate the completion of the schools in Wexford and Bray.
At the High Court on Wednesday, Inspired Spaces, represented by Brian Conroy, said several subcontractors, using vehicles, had commenced a blockade on Monday preventing workers entering sites at Wexford and Bray.
Counsel said it appeared that persons unknown, who appear to work as private security operatives, have been engaged by the protesters to obstruct access to the sites
Counsel said it has been hoped that three of the schools, Coláiste Ráithín and St Philomena's Primary School in Bray, Co Wicklow, and Loreto College in Wexford, would be open by August 27th.
Works at these sites are almost complete, he said.The blockade put the completion date at risk because the subcontractors intend to maintain this form of protest around the clock until they get paid, he said.
Counsel said it appeared that persons unknown, who appear to work as private security operatives, have been engaged by the protesters to obstruct access to the sites.
The other schools being constructed by his client are the Eureka Secondary School, Kells, Co Meath, Tyndall College in Carlow, and Carlow College of Further Education.
Counsel said these sites are not as advanced as the other schools.
While there was no blockade at these premises there was a concern after the sites were entered and items were removed from one of the Carlow sites, he said.
Counsel said, while his client has sympathy for the subcontractors, it does not owe them any money. It says it paid the money for the works done to Carillion, which in turn was to pay those funds to Sammon.
The protesters have no legitimate claim against his client and are not entitled to prevent workers from completing the works.
Retention of items
Counsel added his client will deal with any valid claims by any of the subcontractors for the retention of items in the school that have not been paid for.
The defendants are also restrained from trespassing at the schools
The application came before Ms Justice Caroline Costello who granted an interim injunction preventing the defendants or anyone who has notice of the making of the order from blocking, interfering or impeding with access from and construction works at the schools.
The defendants are also restrained from trespassing at the schools or from removing any items from the schools, except with the consent of Inspired Spaces.
The judge said she was satisfied to grant the orders on grounds including there appeared to be no valid trade dispute between the parties and that the blockade appeared to be unlawful.
The orders, granted on an ex parte basis, were made returnable to later this week.