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Minister Coffey announces the chairperson to the expert panel to investigate the problems that have emerged in concrete blocks in Donegal and Mayo

Published on Monday, 01 Feb 2016

Mr. Paudie Coffey TD, Minister of State for Housing, Planning and Co-ordination of Construction 2020 Strategy, announced today (Monday, February 1) that he has appointed Mr. Dennis McCarthy to chair the expert panel that is being established to investigate the problems that have emerged in the concrete blockwork of certain dwellings in Donegal and Mayo.

“Mr. McCarthy, as a former Director of Services with Waterford County Council, has the necessary mix of skills and experience that will be required to direct and manage the work of the expert panel over the months ahead and facilitate the delivery of a comprehensive report on the problems that have emerged in the affected dwellings” said Minister Coffey.  With the chairperson in place, the Department will shortly be writing to a small number of professional bodies to seek nominations for suitable persons to participate on the expert panel.

“While building defects are matters for resolution between the relevant contracting parties, such as homeowners, builders, suppliers and/or their respective insurers, I am acutely aware of the many stressful and distressing situations facing homeowners who have to live with the degradation of their homes on a daily basis and I am convinced that an independent expert report outlining how their problems can be addressed will be of immense value and support to those homeowners in the future.”

The problems with concrete blocks in north Donegal and Mayo was first brought to the attention of the Department in late 2013 through a number of media reports; further information was provided by affected homeowners which suggested that the nature of the problem related to blocks crumbling which gave rise to structural problems in the affected dwellings.  Impurities such as muscovite mica and pyrite have been identified as constituent elements within some of the affected blocks.

Last November, the Minister announced his intention to set up an expert panel, which would have a strong technical background, to establish, insofar as it is possible, the number of dwellings in Donegal and Mayo affected by problems in the concrete blockwork, the nature of those problems as well as the technical solutions for remediation in order to assist the parties directly involved in reaching a satisfactory resolution to their difficulties.

As announced at that time, the expert panel will have the following terms of reference: - 

  1. To identify, insofar 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
  2. To carry out a desktop study, which would include a consultation process with affected homeowners, 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
  3. To outline a range of technical options for remediation and the means by which those technical options could be applied 
  4. To submit a report to the Minister of State by 31 May 2016.

“I would to take this opportunity to wish Mr. McCarthy every success in his role as chair of the expert panel and I look forward to reading the report when the panel’s investigations are complete later this year.  I know that Mr. McCarthy’s knowledge and expertise as a former senior public servant will provide an invaluable contribution to his role as chairperson of the panel and will ensure that it discharges its role effectively and competently over the months ahead” concluded Minister Coffey.