Irish Construction Industry Magazine continues to examine the Construction Industry Register Ireland (CIRI) and this time we spoke to construction professionals from right across the spectrum of the industry and asked them to give us their opinions on CIRI’s merits and where, if anywhere, it needed to be worked on.

Terry Hobdell, Chairman, Irish Fencing

ICIM: Is membership of CIRI something that your company values and rates when being assessed as part of the procurement and tendering process – explain why?
TH: “CIRI has an extensive system of checking not only the basic requirements regarding insurance Health and Safety, Financials etc. but also looks for examples with references for projects completed and for qualifications and experience of key personnel. There have been a number of snide comments about the Registration being a handed out for the fee, As a starting point in repairing the reputation of an industry that in some cases acted in an appalling way to clients and built buildings that will have problems for ever it is a good way of ensuring that members have a professional business model, qualified personnel and are fit to carry out the tasks they undertake The requirement for continuing professional development which Architects and Engineers amongst others have as a requirement for their continuing registration, should force improved skill levels”

ICIM: “Are there examples of where your membership (or non-membership) tangibly influenced a positive gain?

TH: “It is very hard to tell certainly we find that having the Registration satisfies many of the varied requirements for qualification or pre-qualification which were in use so the form filling in a variety of different formats and answering different criteria for different clients has reduced. “Has anyone ever said I am giving you this job because you are CIRI Registered – No!”

ICIM: Is the criterion for membership appropriate or is it overly complicated or bias towards particular segments of the industry?
TH: “No I think it a very good starting point for restoring Public Confidence in the Construction Industry I am sure that the standards expected will be made more difficult as time goes on The bad reputation of the Industry really only came from a few downright crooks and people taking on things that were beyond them. Most contractors and subbies are very professionally run businesses with highly qualified staff, not a gang of guys in white vans conning people. Registration with CIRI is a reasonable demand upon any company.”

ICIM: Will the fact that it is to be put on a legislative footing make it more relevant and valuable as benchmark for quality assurance and standards.
TH: “Absolutely, once it is statutory and the public are educated to the fact that it is a yardstick for operating professionally it will be a means of continuously improving standards. Look at the success that the Electricians and Gas Industry have made of their industry registration.

ICIM: Are there aspects of CIRI that need to be beefed up or developed?
TH: “It needs to be promoted more to the general public a wide explanation of the nature of the entry requirements and the benefits that using a certified company can bring plus the enforcement of the registration number being on sign off documents by the Professionals will be essential.”

John Sisk & Son

ICIM: Is the criterion for membership appropriate or is it overly complicated or bias towards particular segments of the industry?
John Sisk & Son: “Criterion for membership is appropriate, on introduction of CIRI it took time to get used to the requirements but now that it has been established it is relatively straight forward.” ICIM: Is membership of CIRI something that your company values and rates when being assessed as part of during the procurement and tendering process – explain why? John Sisk & Son: “Yes we would value membership of CIRI as most of our clients require that you are members, it also gives them peace of mind that their projects will be completed to a high standard.”

ICIM: Are there examples of where your membership (or non-membership) tangibly influenced a positive gain?
John Sisk & Son: “Yes – the majority of prequalifications & submissions that we have completed in the last two years require us to be members of CIRI.”

ICIM: Will the fact that it is to be put on a legislative footing make it more relevant and valuable as benchmark for quality
John Sisk & Son: Yes

ICIM: Are there aspects of CIRI that need to be beefed up or developed?
John Sisk & Son: “Yes, membership of CIRI should be statutory for all construction companies and subcontractors, this would improve the benchmark for quality & standards across the Irish Construction Industry and put us on a par with construction standards in other countries.”

Mike Jones, Business Development Director BAM Ireland

ICIM: Is the criterion for membership appropriate or is it overly complicated or bias towards particular segments of the industry?
MJ: “We are satisfied the criteria for membership reflect the appropriate standards for professional businesses.”

ICIM: Is membership of CIRI something that your company values and rates when being assessed as part of during the procurement and tendering process – explain why?
MJ: “BAM believes that it is very important that companies involved in delivering social and productive infrastructure are members of CIRI. The register was founded in response to operators providing incompetent workmanship, and a register of quality contractors and sub-contractors ultimately protects people, the overall reputation of the industry as well as its clients.”

ICIM: Are there examples of where your membership (or non-membership) tangibly influenced a positive gain?
MJ: “The register is still in its initial phase, and we expect it to become increasingly influential when it is adopted by Government as a requirement to undertake public work.”

ICIM: Will the fact that it is to be put on a legislative footing make it more relevant and valuable as benchmark for quality assurance and standards?
MJ: I would repeat my answer to the last question.

ICIM: Are there aspects of CIRI that need to be beefed up or developed?
MJ: “We believe CIRI, in its current form, is an appropriate measure to protect the reputation of the industry. We are happy too that CIRI will develop appropriately over time.”

Conor McNamara, Director, Duggan Brothers (Contractors) Ltd  

ICIM: Is the criterion for membership appropriate or is it overly complicated or bias towards particular segments of the industry?
CMcN: “I feel the criteria is appropriate, competent contractors will already have all the necessary criteria such as Tax Clearance, Insurances and continuing CPD training for its employees in place to ensure continuing membership on an annual basis.”

ICIM: Is membership of CIRI something that your company values and rates when being assessed as part of the procurement and tendering process – explain why?
CMcN: “Duggan Brothers (Contractors) Ltd values this membership as it provides a mechanism for separating the non-compliant operators from those who follow best practice. Setting up the register provides a platform to the Public, Clients and Design Teams to assess that they are dealing with a reputable Building Contractors.”

ICIM: Are there examples of where your membership (or non-membership) tangibly influenced a positive gain?
CMcN: “Since we became members of CIRI in 2014 we have had very little request for proof of membership from Client’s and Design Team’s on pre-qualification submissions, that said when CIRI comes in Legislation it will separate the competent contractors from the non-compliant operators. On a positive note we have increased our training even more to take accounts of the CPD requirements of CIRI annual membership criteria.”

ICIM: Will the fact that it is to be put on a legislative footing make it more relevant and valuable as benchmark for quality assurance and standards?
CMcN: “Yes, as setting up this register provides a platform to Clients and Design Teams that they are dealing with reputable Main Building Contractors and in regards to ourselves as Main Building Contractors using registered sub-contractors on the CIRI list should ensure improved quality assurance and standards.”

Aubyn Thompson (FCIOB), Chartered Construction Manager, Flynn Management & Contractors

ICIM: Is the criterion for membership appropriate or is it overly complicated or bias towards particular segments of the industry?
AT: “No. The criterion is unbiased and commensurate with the requirements needed to be a member. It requests that members must demonstrate that they possess the proper experience, competencies & accreditations to become a member.”

ICIM: Is membership of CIRI something that your company values and rates when being assessed as part of the procurement and tendering process – explain why?
AT: “Yes, absolutely. With CIRI it shows we are a leading, established and experienced contractor. As part of our accreditations we always promote CIRI and ask that all sub-contractors we use are members also or if not in the process of applying for membership.”

ICIM: Are there examples of where your membership (or non-membership) tangibly influenced a positive gain?
AT: “Yes. Government work we have won in recent years. Without CIRI we don’t feel we would have pre-qualified.”

ICIM: Will the fact that it is to be put on a legislative footing make it more relevant and valuable as benchmark for quality assurance and standards?
AT: “Yes. It will make it more relevant and harder for those who don’t have it, to win work.”

David Phelan, Business Development Director, Suir Engineering

ICIM: Is the criterion for membership appropriate or is it overly complicated or bias towards particular segments of the industry?
DP: “Should be more stringent, audits need to be carried out to ensure only contractors that have the appropriate systems qualify for membership thus ensuring that the public can be assured on the competency of the contractor.”

ICIM: Is membership of CIRI something that your company values and rates when being assessed as part of the procurement and tendering process – explain why?
DP: “The concept is excellent, however if means nothing to be CIRI member. Given out to easily its does not guarantee competency of the member as Audits are never carried out.”

ICIM: Are there examples of where your membership (or non-membership) tangibly influenced a positive gain?
DP: “No!”

ICIM: Will the fact that it is to be put on a legislative footing make it more relevant and valuable as benchmark for quality assurance and standards?
DP: “It is not a standard as there is not system Audits been carried out by and independent Body.”

ICIM: Are there aspects of CIRI that need to be beefed up or developed?
DP: “It should not be open to everyone the criteria for joining should be set far higher so that it is relevant and that the public can have confidence in the certification when it is produced. Only Contractors that reach a certain standard i.e. Employees payment, Tax Compliant, CPD, iso9001 ETC.”

Peter Byrne, Quality/Environmental Manager, Roadbridge

ICIM: Is the criterion for membership appropriate or is it overly complicated or bias towards particular segments of the industry?
PB: “For all organisations, certain aspects of it are overly complicated, and is yet another requirement that a company has to fulfil in a manner set out by CIRI that does not necessarily match existing systems operated by those companies, so is time consuming. The CPD Pillars are more geared towards a Building Contractor and do not take into account Civils, so if it became a mandatory requirement to meet certain targets within the ‘Building Regulations’ pillar for instance, we would be unable to meet these.”

ICIM: Is membership of CIRI something that your company values and rates when being assessed as part of the procurement and tendering process – explain why?
PB: “Roadbridge are constantly looking to improve our processes and procedures, so are more than willing to take on new systems.  It is unclear at present what value CIRI will add to our organisation as it is too early in the process.”

ICIM: Are there examples of where your membership (or non-membership) tangibly influenced a positive gain?
PB: “As above, it is too early to tell whether membership of CIRI will have any tangible benefits to Roadbridge.  The only potential positive we can use it for at present is to be seen as an early adopter of the membership, but this will no longer be valid from this year onwards.”

ICIM: Will the fact that it is to be put on a legislative footing make it more relevant and valuable as benchmark for quality assurance and standards?
PB: “If it is fully enacted into legislation, then it will be something that will be perceived as being forced onto contractors, as opposed to a differentiator, and this is where value could be seen from it.  It was also just thrust upon organisations without warning, so I’m not sure about the discussions that went on behind the scenes in the development of it initially.  It could just be seen as a further cost for a company and money for CIF.”

ICIM: Are there aspects of CIRI that need to be beefed up or developed?
PB: “The CPD Development Plan that has to be submitted to CIRI is very restrictive and time consuming, as records need to be added for each relevant individual.  As you can imagine, for a company with 700+ employees, this is practically a full-time role.  If there was an averaged submission, based on trades or professions, this would make things a lot easier.  As it is, we have systems in place for capturing this information, but it is still difficult to change it to match the CIRI requirements, as we operate outside of Ireland. It should be changed from ‘structured’ and ‘unstructured’ to ‘formal’ and ‘informal’ as the guidelines in relation to the unstructured training make it impossible for organisations to provide proof of training, or for their employees to provide proof to them.  We feel the ‘unstructured’ should incorporate things like Tool Box Talks, or Pre-Task Briefings.  Currently, CIRI views these as ‘structured.”

Joe Delaney, Managing Director, Tritech Engineering

ICIM: Is the criterion for membership appropriate or is it overly complicated or bias towards particular segments of the industry?
JD: “We joined the first year and have not revisited the criterion since.”

ICIM: Is membership of CIRI something that your company values and rates when being assessed as part of the procurement and tendering process – explain why?
JD: “I don’t see any current benefits in terms of profile, avenue for projects, etc.”

ICIM: Are there examples of where your membership (or non-membership) tangibly influenced a positive gain?
JD: “No!”

ICIM: Will the fact that it is to be put on a legislative footing make it more relevant and valuable as benchmark for quality assurance and standards?
JD: “Yes!”

ICIM: Are there aspects of CIRI that need to be beefed up or developed?
JD: “The onerous recording of CPD for each staff member needs to be reviewed especially the non-structured.”