#schoolsafety | Building company in school safety probe vows to fight state legal action





(PA)

A building company facing legal action from the Department of Education says it will vigorously contest any litigation.

Tyrone-based company Western Building Systems (WBS), who were contracted to build a number of schools across the state by the government is now subject to court proceedings after alleged defects were found in a number of institutions.

Some 42 schools constructed by WBS across Ireland have been at the centre of a safety probe.

Initial inspections uncovered issues at 22 schools, leading the The Department of Education and Skills to order further structural checks on additional buildings last year, it is understood further work may need to be carried out.

The company made its announcement at the commencement of legal hearings, after the case had its first mention at the High Court on Monday, with the state taking the case in relation to two schools built by the company.

Western Building Systems (WBS), which says it has constructed certified schools in Ireland and the UK over a 20-year period, has stated that it intends to “vigorously contest” legal action and that it is to legally pursue the Department for outstanding payments relating to 10 schools previously certified by Department appointed inspectors.

A statement from Western Building Systems said: “We intend to vigorously contest these legal challenges and to pursue payment of monies owed to us.

“Every school we have ever built was assessed and certified by the Department.

“Yet the Department alone is now deeming some of these schools defective.

“Evidence of defects has never been published. The promised independent inquiry has never materialised.

“The scope, findings and costs of the Department’s own remedial works have never been made public.

“We have stated since the outset that we do not walk away. We know how important schools are to pupils, parents, teachers and the wider community.

“That we are now in court is regrettable.

“The legal process will now play-out. That does not change the need for a calm, independent examination of the entire school building programme.”

A source in the Department of Education says that any independent review could only be completed after the court action had been resolved.

Funding to build new school buildings was reduced in Budget 2020, and a proportion of the 670m allocated to the Education Department will be spent fixing structural defects.

PA


Source by [author_name]