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SEC Group mourns loss of its President

After a long battle against cancer, Lord Martin O’Neill, long-term President of the Specialist Engineering Contractors’ (SEC) Group has died aged 75.

Lord O’Neill of Clackmannan became President of SEC Group on being ennobled in 2005 after having served as a Member of Parliament for over 25 years. He was for a time Shadow Secretary of State for Defence in Neil Kinnock’s Shadow Cabinet.

His first involvement with the construction industry came when he was Chairman of the House of Commons Trade and Industry Select Committee. He instigated an inquiry in 2002 into the practice of retentions in the construction industry.

As President of SEC Group, he was a regular attendee at Board meetings and his wise counsel was often relied upon in the development of policy. He was a strident advocate inside and outside Parliament for radically reforming the procurement and payment processes in construction.

In 2009, he launched a report compiled by SEC Group and other bodies representing the specialist engineering sector, which concluded that the major barrier to progress in developing a more sustainable industry was the lack of collaboration between key project participants from the outset of the procurement process.

SEC Group CEO Rudi Klein said: “The construction industry has lost a Parliamentary champion. Martin fully aligned himself with the challenges faced by SMEs, particularly their never-ending battles to get paid. He was not afraid to speak his mind and hold ministers and civil servants to account for their inaction.”

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