Tag Archives: Western Building Systems

File photo of worker at Western Building Systems’ site

Emma O’Kelly reports on RTÉ:

Overall €40 million has been spent by the State so far on remediation works in dozens of schools [built by Co Tyrone-based company Western Building Systems] where fire safety breaches and structural defects were discovered, RTÉ News has learned.

The figure is expected to be contained in an update that the Minister for Education Joe McHugh is expected to give to the Cabinet at its weekly meeting later this morning.

…However, the €40m bill will rise over this year and next. Work on structural repairs to eight more schools is due to begin in the New Year. Plans are being drawn up for repairs to a further 17 schools, where work is expected to begin next summer.


Eamon Melia tweetz:

The Govt have spent €40 million on repairs to new schools built by Western Building systems yet still awarding state contracts to that company. Something not right here.


€40m spent by State on school building remediation works (RTÉ)

Previously: Western Building Systems on Broadsheet

File photo of worker at Western Building Systems’ site; former Minister for Education Richard Bruton at an Oireachtas committee meeting in September 2017

This morning.

RTÉ’s Education Correspondent Emma O’Kelly is reporting that the HSE awarded a €14million contract to Tyrone-based Western Building Systems to build a new 60-bed ward at University Hospital Limerick – with the contract signed in May.

It follows Ms O’Kelly reporting last week that engineers had found structural flaws in 17 schools buildings – despite initial assessments carried out last October finding that there were no safety concerns.

These schools were in addition to 22 other schools that were found to have defects last year, while all of the schools affected were built by Western Building Systems.

The Department of Education is suing the company.


On September 26, 2017…

At a meeting of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Education and Skills, the then Minister for Education Richard Bruton answered questions put to him by members of the committee about Western Building Systems.

At the time, Mr Bruton announced that 31 schools across Ireland were to be audited for fire safety standards after five then recently built schools were found to be in breach of regulations.

Mr Bruton told the committee:

“We are now doing a full audit of all of the WBS [Western Building Systems] schools. It is important for me to say this is not based on a concern that we have. We believe that the premises have been to the highest standards but we just want to make doubly sure.”

During the meeting, People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett told the minister: “It [Western Building Systems] should never get a public contract again.”

Mr Boyd Barrett added:

“Can the Minister tell us how many schools this company is currently building? How many other schools has it built? We also know that it is involved in the Poppintree project for rapid-build. Are these units being audited for fire safety?

“It built the extension to Beaumont Hospital. Has that been fire-safety audited? I believe it did work in Temple Street hospital. Has that been fire-safety audited?

“Can the Minister tell us today that if Western Building Systems was guilty of multiple breaches of basic fire safety regulations? Will it be banned forever and a day from ever getting a public contract? It absolutely should be.

“Can the Minister also confirm whether the Whitehall College of Further Education was also built by Western Building Systems in 2008?

“It has been sitting empty to this day because issues were also identified there, initially by the National Standards Authority and because a case subsequently taken by the Office of Public Works over breaches of regulations and building controls. That building is sitting there empty.”

Mr Bruton responded that yes, Western Building Systems could tender for other projects.

He said:

“Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked whether Western Building Systems was eligible to apply for further contracts. It can.

The rules under which tendering occurs are very strict as to when an individual or a contractor can be disallowed from participating in the process.

“They include where someone has committed offences or undertaken activities involving misrepresentation, undue influence on procurement procedures, grave professional misconduct or agreements to distort competition or demonstrated significant or persistent deficiencies in the performance of a public contract which led to its early termination.

“The situations in which one can or cannot exclude a builder from a particular application process are very clear.

It is true that although we are carrying out an audit of every building constructed by Western Building Systems, the Department is confident that they are being built to the highest standards.

“All of the new protections which have been in place since 2014 in terms of certification are in place in respect of those buildings.

“We want to make sure there is no question of anything which is not up to the highest standards being missed.

“That is why we are undertaking a 100% audit of the schools built by Western Building Systems since 2003.”

Committee transcript via Kildarestreet.com

Watch the committee meeting back here

HSE awards €14m contract to building firm which Education Dept is suing (Emma O’Kelly, RTE)

Minister for Education Joe McHugh

This afternoon.

The Minister for Education Joe McHugh spoke to RTÉ’s News at One, on the back of RTÉ Education Correspondent Emma O’Kelly’s report earlier today that engineers had found structural flaws in 17 schools buildings – despite initial assessments carried out last October finding that there were no safety concerns.

These schools are in addition to 22 other schools that were found to have defects last year.

All of the schools affected were built by Tyrone-based company Western Building Systems.

Mr McHugh told RTÉ:

“Going back to the initial investigation [in October] and one of the questions that officials will always ask of engineers – are these schools safe to go into?. Yes they were deemed safe to go into.

Are they safe to go into today? In terms of what we’ve received over the summer? Probably the answer would still be yes.

“But what I want to do, I want to be over prudent here. I want to ensure that these schools are long-term viable propositions over the next 50 to 60 years.”

Asked if there’s an issue within the Department of Education in how it audits building work, the minister said:

“That is a very good question and it’s something that we’re following up on.”

He said the department has already tendered for an international group to assess this type of building by WBS.

Meanwhile, Ms O’Kelly, who spoke to some of the principals of the affected schools, said they’re faced with “a big headache” as they’re due to open in two weeks.

She said:

“They’ve new teachers, they’ve new junior infants coming in and they’ve to make decisions. One principal described to me scaffolding in the stairwells of the school, scaffolding around the school.

“Another principal has already made the decision to postpone the opening of the school, just for a few days at this stage.

“…some principals are waiting and seeing because it’s very early days. They were just informed of this yesterday.”

Ms O’Kelly also said that the schools, to which the staff have not had access all summer, won’t be receiving the keys to their schools at close of business two days before the schools are scheduled to reopen – giving them one day to prepare for children returning to school.

Listen back in full here

Emma O’Kelly

Earlier: The 39 Schools

Rebuilding Ireland

‘The Schools Were Built Under A Fast Track System’

Rapid Answers

Pic: Rollingnews

This morning.

Tyrrelstown, Dublin 15.

Parents with their children protest outside St Luke’s National School which will remain closed until Friday following safety concerns

Tyrrelstown Educate Together school- which shares a campus with St Luke’s – was due to partially reopen today.

The Department of Education has ordered an examination of 42 schools built by Western Building Systems in the past ten years after “significant structural issues” were recently identified at a north Dublin school.

Yesterday: ‘I Can’t For The Life Of Me Understand Why No One Gives A Bollox’

Eamonn Farrell/RollingNews

From top: Independents 4 Change TD Mick Wallace; Minister for Education Joe McHugh

This afternoon.

In the Dáil.

As Minister for Education Joe McHugh and TDs made statements on the structural issues at Western Building Systems-built schools

Independents 4 Change TD Mick Wallace said:

How in God’s name did one company get so much State work? I’d love to know that. What kind of connections do they have to get so much work? I’d like to know that.

“…It’s so blatantly obvious that there are so many problems around how youse are doing things. I can’t for the life of me understand why no one gives a bollox like, I mean, why doesn’t somebody want to change it? Why doesn’t somebody want to address the inherent problems – the problems that have been there for years – because they can be fixed, you can do things different.

“…A guy in my office pulled out an article this morning, from October 2015. It says Education Minister Jan O’Sullivan confirmed she’s currently arranging safety checks on some facilities built by Western Building Systems which has constructed 26 schools for the State since 2008 after chronic problems were exposed.

“And in 2014 and 2015, the same company got more schools with the same Government. Why in God..Why would you give more work to a company that had proved itself to be doing poor work. Why would you do that? Can you answer that?

“Why does a company who has proved themselves not to be good get more work? I don’t understand that. It doesn’t make any sense.”

Here is a list of the 42 schools completed by Western Building Systems between 2003 and 2018 – 14 of which were built from 2015 on.

Related: Parents to picket Dublin school over structural issues (RTE)

Watch back in full here

This morning.

Tyrrelstown Educate Together School, Hollywood Road, Tyrrelstown, Dublin 15.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar TD and (in red) Principal of St Lukes National School Vivian Bourke meeting staff and principals in the Community Centre beside Tyrrelstown Educate Together School and St Luke’s National School in Dublin which have all been closed due to safety concerns.

The Department of Education has ordered an examination of 42 schools built by Tyrone-based Western Building Systems in the past ten years after “significant structural issues” were recently identified at a north Dublin school.

Yesterday: The Schools Were Built Undser A Fast Track System


Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said that hospital units built by Tyrone-based construction company Western Building Systems (WBS) are being examined to make sure that they are structurally sound.

He said that initial indications from Beaumont Hospital and some of the health buildings is that the units are not affected by structural problems which were discovered in school buildings built by WBS.

The HSE has said it is working to establish a list of any health facilities it may have engaged WBS to construct.

The company website lists a number of facilities at Beaumont, St Finbarr’s in Cork, Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda and Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital in Crumlin.

Hospital units built by WBS being examined – Taoiseach (RTÉ)


Structural concerns at 40 schools built by Western Building Systems will be assessed

Minister for Education Joe McHugh said there would be an assessment of all 40 schools built by [Tyrone construction firm] Western Building Systems including those constructed after new regulations came into place two years ago.

…The Minister said they would establish a chronology of what schools would be assessed first.

The schools were built under a fast track system introduced over a decade ago before stricter regulations were put in place in 2014.

All 40 schools built by Western Building Systems to be inspected (Irish Times)

Western order book ‘strong’ as company builds for the future (Irish News, November 23, 2017)