Sustained private investment and European Union funding have transformed the Republic’s economy, and although Northern Ireland has tended to lag behind, it has recently been enjoying its own mini-boom. Despite the political climate, most contractors think the peace process is helping deliver investment to the region.

The retail boom precipitated by supermarket giants Tesco and J Sainsbury has tailed off, but contractors cheerily point to the fact that two-thirds of all construction work, a rise of 5-7%, is now in the private sector. In the 1980s, that was the reverse.

Hopes of an upturn in the flow of state infrastructure projects were dashed when the Northern Ireland Executive unravelled. Northern Ireland’s largest school building programme, worth £72m, was announced in February, but while politicians sort out their next move, large-scale state spending is effectively mothballed.

Contractors here continue to lament static tender prices, and competitive tendering remains the clients’ favourite procurement route. As one contractor put it: “Clients here like partnering as long as you have the lowest price. Egan isn’t a name you hear much.”

Companies do work both north and south of the border, but to get work in Dublin, consultants need an office there. Contractors go down the route of joint ventures with local companies.

Northern Ireland

Hopefully, we’ll get the executive back soon. It was making a real difference to construction here. That said, the private sector is looking good now Ivan McCabrey chief executive, Mivan We’re enthusiastic about the future here. Hopefully, the dark clouds of the past are behind us John Robinson Laing’s area manager for Northern Ireland Key projects £30m-plus Belfast City Airport terminal designed by Building Design Partnership £90m Odyssey Centre, being built by joint venture Farrans/Gilbert Ash and due for completion in October £250m mixed-use development, Belfast. Three proposed schemes to develop Belfast city centre £100m business park, Aldergrove Airport proposed by airport owner TBI Price of a pint £2 Price of a three-bed semi £65 000