The collapse last Friday of such a prominent architectural practice as Murray O’Laoire shows how bleak the outlook is for many professionals in the construction sector – not just architects, but also engineers, quantity surveyors and others in the frontline of an industry in deep trouble. Murray O’Laoire Architects (MOLA) went into liquidation, with the loss of 127 jobs, after its bankers pulled the plug. The firm said it was “unable to meet its current financial obligations” because of cumulative bad debts, problems in getting more work and “the increasing difficulties in getting paid on time, or at all”.
Seán O’Laoire, founder (with Hugh Murray) of MOLA, said it was “devastating” to find themselves in this position. “There was a sense of inevitability about it, with nothing coming in and then not being paid for work we had done. You can only keep going for so long on that basis. Contractors, too, are on the edges of liquidity.”
That a firm of MOLA’s high calibre and experience should fall by the wayside was greeted with shock and dismay by fellow architects. “They didn’t deserve this,” one of them said. “It’s a very sad day for the architectural profession in Ireland.” And he warned that many others could go the same way in the coming months.