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Local labour shortage threatens Irish boom

IRELAND'S CONSTRUCTION boom could be brought to an abrupt halt if British firms do not act now to grab a slice of the bonanza, UK industry representatives were told this week.

Mary Doyle, assistant secretary of the Irish government, said the British construction industry's resources and experience were extremely valuable.

But delegates at a Department of Trade & Industry conference to highlight the potential business opportunities in Ireland were told they would not find a ready made labour market in place.

They were warned that firms would have to provide the 'whole package', and bring in operatives, plant, equipment, specialist materials and subcontractors.

But an infrastructure deficit has been exposed by the country's rapid economic growth.

Massive redevelopment of the public transport system is required, especially roads.

The National Plan released last year outlined a £33bn investment programme over the next six years - well beyond anything previously experienced in Ireland.

Shortages in the labour market have shown that the Irish construction industry cannot cope.

Only five Irish consultants employ more than 250 people and contractors have little experience of projects over £30M.

A projected shortfall of 84,000 workers across all trades and disciplines has been predicted.

But representatives of large UK construction firms raised concern about the viability of the Irish government's plans.

Most doubted whether UK contractors could profitably export the required labour and materials. Contracts would have to be negotiated rather than being tendered for to cover set up costs.

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