Northern Ireland news

Taoiseach confirms examinations of hospital units

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and education minister Joe McHugh (right) during their visit to Tyrrelstown Educate Together School, one of two schools in Dublin that has been closed amid concerns over "significant structural issues"

HOSPITAL units built by a Co Tyrone construction company are being examined to ensure they are structurally sound.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar confirmed the review of buildings in the Republic but said he had no concerns.

Beaumont Hospital in Dublin and others are not thought to be affected by problems discovered in schools built by Western Building Systems (WBS).

WBS, which is based in Coalisland, has provided buildings for the health and education sectors across Ireland.

It was involved in projects at the Mater and Royal Victoria Hospitals in Belfast, Altnagelvin in Derry and Lagan Valley in Lisburn.

Last week, "significant structural issues" were discovered at Ardgillan Community College in Balbriggan, Co Dublin.

That prompted the Republic's Department of Education to carry out "urgent structural assessments" at more than 40 schools.

Mr Varadkar and education minister Joe McHugh visited affected schools in Dublin yesterday.

The north's department said it would also conduct a review.

Northern Ireland's Department of Health said it is not aware of any issues.

"The contractor has undertaken projects across a number of HSC Trusts which are mainly single storey modular construction rather than the larger, multi-storey buildings supplied in the Republic of Ireland," a spokeswoman said.

"All HSC projects are constructed to NI building regulation standards and are inspected and certified by the appropriate building control units of local councils on completion."

The department, she said, was working with trusts to examine if similar issues as those reported in the Republic could apply to projects delivered in the north "and determine if appropriate remedial action is necessary".

WBS said it had been involved in several health projects since 2000, all of which were subject to regulations and a certification process.

The firm added it was not aware of any issues.

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