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Government To Take Legal Action Against Western Building Systems

The construction firm behind 42 schools found to have structural defects - is criticising the Education Minister.

Western Building Systems says a review announced by Minister Joe McHugh is too restrictive.

The Government is now taking legal action against Western Building Systems after inspections of completed schools around the country found structural and fire safety problems.

The Education Minister has announced that a promised independent review - which will look at how schools are designed and built in other countries - will be carried out by Technological University Dublin.

Western Building Systems has called the review restrictive - as it does not examine the Department's own practices and procedures.

It's criticised Minister Joe McHugh for choosing to proceed with a review that it says is a "desktop exercise which which should be standard practice for something as important as the school building programme."

It's called for a FULL independent review if shortcomings in the procurement and regulation of public infrastructure projects are to be addressed.

International experts are to investigate the Department of Education's design and build programme, after a further 17 schools were identified as having structural defects. 

The flaws have been identified in schools in Counties Dublin, Donegal, Meath, Laois, Wexford, Kildare, Galway, Westmeath and Gaelscoil na gCloch Liath in Greystones in County Wicklow.

The school - which was built by Western Building Systems – is one of 40 schools across the country identified as having structural issues last October, which led to precautionary measures being implemented to ensure the safety of staff and students.

Works at 14 of the schools have been carried out over the summer.  Work will commence on a further 8 over the next few months. 

A further 17 of the schools, including the Gaelscoil in Greystones have been identified as needing permanent remediation work and are included in the second phase of the remediation programme.

Western Building Systems says it's committed to working with the Department of Education to resolve structural issues at a number of schools it built. 

17 schools have been assessed as having similar safety issues to those identified last year in 22 others.

The company says the department promised an independent review of the schools building programme, however it's still awaiting details of the terms of reference, the independent chair or investigators, and international best practice guidance.

The contractor says several questions have been raised, including why 42 schools previously certified by the department's own assessors were suddenly deemed to have defects.

Western Building Systems says it will again write to the Minister for Education and Skills seeking a firm deadline for the publication of the independent report. 

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