The issue of schools affected by the collapse of British building company Carillion has been raised by a number of TDs in the Dáil this evening.
The company was involved in six large scale school building projects in counties Carlow, Meath, Wexford and Wicklow as part of a Public Private Partnership.
Richard Boyd Barrett of Solidarity/People Before Profit called for the schools in question to be brought into public ownership.
He also called for the Oireachtas Public Accounts Committee to examine in detail both what has happened with Carillion, as well as the whole model of PPP.
Mr Boyd Barrett said when a private for profit entity went bust, as had happened, it was not the private sector that took the risk but school students.
He said they had fallen victim to private interests who were in the business of making profits. Mr Boyd Barrett added that this was the fundamental problem with the PPP mode.
Independent TD Tommy Broughan said he shared the same sentiments. He said students and parents were the ones picking up the pieces for a shortsighted and failed policy.
Mick Wallace of Independents4change questioned what kind of research had been done into PPP firms before contracts are awarded.
Fianna Fáil's Stephen Donnelly said there were questions to be asked about underbidding and other aspects of procurement for schools, but he said those questions were for another day.
He said he wanted to hear that the matter was under control and that the Government was working with the contractors to get students into their schools.
Minister for Education Richard Bruton said while it had initially been hoped that an interim solution could be reached, that had not been the case.
He said a comprehensive rectification plan was now being worked on.
He said implementation of the plan was a matter for the private sector parties.
Mr Bruton said there were legal and financial imperatives on the company to deliver the projects in as timely a manner as possible before payment would be received, and that for that reason the State was in a strong position.
Mr Bruton added that under the PPP model the risk had been transferred to the private partner and that Dutch Infrastructure Fund, which is the remaining shareholder following the collapse of Carillion, was responsible for finishing the schools.
He said DIF had confirmed that resolution of this issue was its top priority.
However, Fianna Fáil spokesman on education Thomas Byrne said the Minister had indicated that completion would have to have the approval of the project funder, which is a Japanese bank.
He said the issue was getting more complicated by the minute.
Mr Bruton also confirmed that the State would not be stepping in to pay any subcontractors who may be out of pocket as a result of the collapse.
He said subcontractors had a contract with the provider, not the State.
The Minister said 17% of recent school completions had been completed through Public Private Partnerships.
He said the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform was undertaking a review of PPP's, as was the Comptroller and Auditor General.