ANOTHER 30,000 construction jobs are forecast to be lost before the end of the year as some of the country's biggest infrastructural projects have come to an end.
Large-scale development has now ground to a halt as some of the largest developments are near completion or have already been wrapped up.
The Aviva Stadium, the National Convention Centre and Terminal Two at Dublin airport are all either practically finished or getting finishing touches. At the height of their construction, the three projects were responsible for more than 1,200 jobs.
In addition, much of the motorway network has been constructed, with the opening of bypasses on roads from Dublin to Cork, Galway and Limerick in April and May.
Since March, sections of the M7, M8, M9 and the M3 have all been opened. Other major projects – the M50 in Dublin, the Limerick ring road, and the last one or two sections of the interurban motorway project – are due to be completed by the end of the year.
It is bad news for the government, which hoped the unemployment rate of 13.7% would shrink by the end of the year. There is now the real prospect that it could increase.
While motorists will welcome the fact that a world-class road network now extends to both Cork and Galway from Dublin, once it is finished, the jobs vanish.
"It is a major worry for the industry and the companies involved just will not have anything to replace their work," said Construction Industry Federation head Tom Parlon. "There are no jobs coming through and no projects in the pipeline. It is going to be a disaster as we move towards the end of the year unless something is done."
Construction employment has fallen from over 400,000 at the height of the boom in 2007 to below 200,000 at the start of 2010.
Since then, the number of direct employees in building work has fallen to just 130,000 and at least 30,000 jobs are predicted to be lost by the Construction Industry Federation in the coming months.
"Most of the motorways are open or the final phase will be coming to completion at the end of the year," said Parlon. "We have also had the Aviva Stadium, the convention centre and so on. If you think the Aviva Stadium cost around €300m, well, that is between 300 and 400 jobs gone immediately. And it is not just those employed directly. You have all the suppliers, the catering, the travel, the oil and diesel; everything is affected."
Figures obtained by the Sunday Tribune show that, between March and April, only €60m worth of new government work was approved. In those two months, only seven of 35 city and county councils got a project under way and the remainder did not begin a single piece of business.
Not a single contract was awarded in Cork city or county council and no new work was offered by Galway city or county council or Limerick.