In Irish Construction News in the past week
1. Construction industry’s 05 April reopening at risk as a result of growing Covid-19 cases
According to political and public health leaders, a rise in the number of Covid-19 cases could endanger plans to reopen the construction industry on 05 April 5th.
Following three days up to last Friday, when the total new daily case numbers were around 600, there is growing concern over rising virus cases. On Friday, 11 March, 646 cases and 10 deaths were reported.
What they are saying
An Taoiseach Micheal Martin told RTÉ that “There is no point in opening up and having to close again”.
Tánaiste Leo Varadkar told Virgin Media, “reopening on 05 April of any sort won’t be possible if we go in the wrong direction in terms of case numbers.”
Tom Parlon, Director General, Construction Industry Federation, said that the Level 5 restrictions are having a significant impact on house building, and he says the industry must reopen fully in early April.
He told RTE 800 that fewer houses are being built each week that the closure remains in place.
“The lockdown means we are producing around 800 each week we are locked-down less than we should be, so we are heading for the 10,000 mark now,” he said. “We are into our third month, so we are not going to regain those next year; that just is impossible.”
2. Challenge against Covid-19 construction restrictions adjourned until April
A challenge by a Paddy McKillen Jnr company over the extension of Covid-19 regulations preventing some 60% of the construction industry from operating has been adjourned to next month. It is expected to get an early hearing date.
When the case returned before Mr Justice Charles Meenan at the High Court on Friday 11 March, he agreed, on consent of the sides, to adjourn it to 13 April, indicating he anticipated setting an early hearing date.
Blue Whisp, part of the Oakmount Group, has brought judicial review proceedings against the Minister for Heath over the extension of the regulations to at least 05 April, claiming the Minister has unlawfully introduced “selective exemptions” for apparently “politically expedient” construction projects, primarily public sector- and multinational-backed projects.
3. Over €60m allocated for Galway infrastructure projects
More than €50 million worth of public funding has been allocated to invest in major infrastructure projects in Galway City.
Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Darragh O’Brien TD announced on Friday 11 March that €62.5m in funding was being provided for infrastructure developments in Galway.
Of that, €53m is earmarked for three major projects in Galway city. The Galway City Council Transport Connectivity Project, Galway Public Spaces and Streets Project, and Galway Innovation and Creativity District.
All of these infrastructure projects are being undertaken by Galway City Council, and the last one is a collaboration between the council and NUI Galway.
Cllr Mike Cubbard, Mayor of the City of Galway, said that he was delighted to welcome the funding announcement for these “ambitious” infrastructure projects.
“They will transform our medieval city into a modern centre of innovation and sustainability. We must now knuckle down to deliver for the city and its people.”
The €40.3 million Galway City Council Transport Connectivity Project focuses on the redevelopment of Ceannt Station, a pedestrian and cycling bridge across the Corrib on the old Clifden Railway Line abutments, and other connection works.
The Public Spaces and Streets Project consists of public realm improvements to six different areas of the city, for which €8.64 million has been allocated.
And lastly, €4.3m has been awarded for the Galway Innovation and Creativity District project. This will be a major redevelopment of Nuns Island and Earls Island undertaken by the city council and NUIG to create new spaces for science and innovation, along with arts and culture.
4. New Land Development Agency Bill “an affront to democracy”
Parts of a new bill to regulate the supply of public land for housing have been branded “an affront to local democracy”.
Members of Cork City Council said some of the provisions in the Land Development Agency (LDA) Bill would strip locally elected members of key powers around the disposal of public land to the agency.
They have now called on Housing Minister Darragh O’Brien to scrap several sections of the bill, which is at second stage before the Dáil.
5. Social housing misses delivery target by 34%
Housing Minister Darragh O’Brien TD published the statistics around social housing delivery and need, with the figures showing that social housing missed its delivery target by 34% last year.
The Rebuilding Ireland figures had targeted 11,167 homes to be delivered through purchase, build, and leasing, but the final figure was 7,827.
Mr O’Brien said Covid-19 shutdowns had severely impacted the delivery of homes, particularly in the first half of the year.