Tuesday, 23 May 2017
I am taking this matter on behalf of the Minister, Deputy Simon Coveney. I will reply to some of the issues the Deputy has raised after I read this reply from the Minister.
At the outset, I acknowledge the very difficult and distressing situation that certain home owners in Donegal and Mayo are facing as a result of damage to the structural integrity of their homes. The Minister, Deputy Coveney, firmly believes that the parties responsible for the poor workmanship and-or the supply of defective materials should face up to their responsibilities and take appropriate action to provide remedies for the affected house owners. An expert panel on concrete blocks was established in the Department of Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government in 2016 to investigate the problems that have emerged in the concrete blocks of certain dwellings in Donegal and Mayo. The membership of the panel on concrete blocks was formally announced on 6 April 2016 following the announcement of the chairperson, Mr. Dennis McCarthy, on 1 February 2016.
The panel had the following terms of reference: to identify, in so far as it is possible, the numbers of private dwellings which appear to be affected by defects in the blockwork in the counties of Donegal and Mayo; to carry out a desktop study, which would include a consultation process with affected home owners, public representatives, local authorities, product manufacturers, building professionals, testing laboratories, industry stakeholders and other relevant parties to establish the nature of the problem in the affected dwellings; to outline a range of technical options for remediation and the means by which those technical options could be applied; and to submit a report within six months.The expert panel on concrete blocks has met on 12 occasions since it was first established. A similar number of meetings have taken place with key stakeholders, including affected home owners, elected members of Donegal County Council, local authority officials, industry bodies, academics, public representatives and other interested parties. A substantial volume of information has been provided by affected home owners in both counties, as well as by Donegal County Council. Additional information has also been provided through the consultation process. The panel has concluded its meetings and is in the process of finalising its report, which is undergoing legal proofing. I understand this will be completed shortly. I fully appreciate and understand the urgency of this matter for the affected home owners. The Minister will continue to monitor progress closely. It is equally important for the affected home owners that the final part of the process with regard to the report is completed thoroughly. In this regard, the Minister will await the outcome of the panel’s report before considering what further actions may be required to assist the parties directly involved to reach a satisfactory resolution to the problems that have emerged in the two counties.