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Minister cannot wash his hands of lax building standards – Cullinane

17 May, 2016 - by David Cullinane TD


Sinn Féin TD for Waterford David Cullinane has called on the Minister for the Environment to intervene and provide support to residents in Ceol Na Mara Housing Estate in Kill, Co. Waterford. A number of health and safety defects were identified in the estate and private homeowners are facing costly remedial work as the developer who built the estate is now in receivership.

Deputy Cullinane said the Ministers reply to his parliamentary question that he has ‘no function in assessing, checking or testing compliance, or otherwise, of specific works or developments’ is extraordinary and demonstrates that little has changed since scandal after scandal has emerged regarding poor building standards.

Speaking tonight, Deputy Cullinane said:

“It is completely unacceptable that homeowners are left high and dry due to bad building practices by contractors who have failed to comply with building regulations. Residents in the Ceol Na Mara estate in County Waterford were horrified to find that fire safety defects existed in their homes. To add insult to injury, the contractor is in receivership leaving the residents with little civil legal remedy

 “In recent times, the Royal Institute of Architects in talking about the Longboat key fiasco said that many more Longboat Quays could happen because building control legislation has yet to be fixed. They called for the increased resourcing of local authorities to allow them to properly police building standards

“They called very importantly for mandatory independent inspections, which would be outside the control or influence of developers and builders. They called for the establishment of a consumer redress scheme and much more. And yet the Ministers response to my query is that he has ‘no function in assessing, checking or testing compliance, or otherwise, of specific works or developments’. This is unacceptable. It is not good enough that the state keeps washing its hands of responsibility on these important matters.” 

Note: see PQ response below

To ask the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if he is aware of serious health and safety defects found in homes in Ceol na Mara in Kill in County Waterford, if the homes conform with all relevant statutory fire obligations; if not, the steps he or the appropriate State body will take to carry out appropriate remedial works to satisfy all statutory obligations pertaining to health and safety; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

- David Cullinane.

REPLY

Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Simon Coveney)

I understand that Waterford City and County Council is liaising with the residents of the Ceol na Mara development on an ongoing basis in an effort to be of support and assistance to residents at this difficult time.

Part B of the Building Regulations sets out the statutory standards of fire safety that apply when a new building is constructed in order to ensure the safety of persons in and about the building.   Compliance with the building regulations is first and foremost the responsibility of the owners, designers and builders of the building concerned. As Minister, I have no function in assessing, checking or testing compliance, or otherwise, of specific works or developments.

Remediation of defects is a matter between the parties concerned, the current owners and the builder/developer, their agents and their insurers. This applies also where the owner is a Local Authority or an Approved Housing Body ,   both of which are relevant in the context of a number of properties at Ceol na Mara. If a satisfactory resolution cannot be achieved through dialogue and negotiation , the option of seeking civil legal remedy may be considered. It is understood that the builder/developer in this instance is in receivership and it is therefore important that the receiver is notified of all liabilities at the earliest possible opportunity.

  The Local Authority’s overriding concern in these matters is one of public safety and its statutory functions (under Planning, Building Control, Fire Safety and Housing legislation) relate to the enforcement of compliance with statutory obligations. The Local Authority is not responsible for undertaking remedial works in private dwellings . Nevertheless, its advice and support can be he lpful i n such situations and , as Minister , I expect Waterford City and County Council to continue to do whatever is reasonable and appropriate to support the residents at Ceol na Mara . I would also urge all concerned to cooperate fully with the local authority in carrying out its statutory functions.

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