'The whole country can't go on social welfare'; Cork developer says construction can be done safely during pandemic

'The whole country can't go on social welfare'; Cork developer says construction can be done safely during pandemic
Developer Michael O'Flynn.

ONE of Cork's biggest developers says it is right that the construction industry keeps working because "the whole country can't go on social welfare".

Developer Michael O’Flynn has 10 sites across Cork and Dublin with 500 people working on these developments.

Mr O’Flynn said all their sites are working within all HSE guidelines for coronavirus.

“The attitude of the workforce will determine if it can work or not,” Mr O’Flynn said. 

“Thankfully, we have a very willing workforce.

“Why wouldn’t we stay working? We can’t put the whole country on social welfare.” 

The developer said that while he saw no reason to halt activity at this time, if the pandemic goes on for months, they will eventually run into difficulty with the supply of raw materials, many of which come from overseas.

“A lot of the work we do, house construction, we can do in a safe manner. We have people supervising the guidance rules, we are taking every precaution and the cooperation is good," he said.

However, there have been calls for non-essential construction projects to be closed from within the industry.

Barry Murphy, a spokesman for the Operative Plasterers and Allied Trades Society of Ireland (Opatsi), said all non-essential sites should be closed with immediate effect while essential sites, such as healthcare and vital infrastructure, such as broadband, water and gas, should remain active. 

“I’ve been talking to builders and workers and social distancing is impossible on sites. There are heavy weights to lift that require a number of people.

“Opatsi represents 400 construction workers and I am getting a huge number of calls from members who are concerned about the work they are doing.

“They don’t want to be onsite but they can’t walk, or they won’t be paid and their job will be gone. It is very concerning.” 

Mr Murphy called on the Government to close down these sites immediately.

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