Defective homes public enquiry call


THE EU Parliament’s Petition Committee, who visited defective material homeowners in Donegal in the autumn, have recommended “a thorough and transparent public enquiry and effective and timely proceedings, when appropriate”.

The draft report is hard-hitting in its recommendations and states that “there is a need for a clearer picture when it comes to identifying and holding accountable the persons and entities responsible for this situation.”


MEP for the Midlands and North West Chris McManus was among the six-strong EU petitions committee members who met home owners, council members, technical experts and Mica Action Group representatives over October 30 to November 1.

They were MEP Dolors Montserrat, Leader of the mission, MEP Tatjana Ždanoka, MEP Maria Walsh, MEP Colm Markey, MEP Luke (Ming) Flanagan and Chris McManus.

Their visit was on foot of eight petitions sent to the EU in 2021.

Welcoming the report and calling for an actual 100 per cent redress scheme for affected home owners, he recently visited Manorcunningham pensioner Mary O’Regan whose home will have to be demolished.

The draft report sets out six recommendations:

1. The large scale and complexity of the use of defective building blocks used in construction in Ireland, as well as its severe health, financial and social consequences, amounts to an ongoing housing crisis, which should be urgently tackled. The safety of buildings and the protection of the homeowners represents a multi-dimensional challenge, which needs to be addressed through multi-dimensional measures and in full compliance with the applicable EU legislation, notably the EU Construction Products Regulation.

2. It needs to be ensured that this situation will never occur again, not only in Ireland but also in any EU member state. It is the responsibility of the public authorities to safeguard people’s well-being and health, by exploiting all the available tools under the current legal and policy framework at national and EU level, according to the principle of subsidiarity. National and local authorities should take all the necessary measures to provide tailor-made and fit-for-purpose assistance to affected homeowners, as well as comprehensive and effective solutions that meet their wide-ranging needs……


3. The market surveillance system in Ireland, both at national and local level, needs to be enhanced, adopting a stance that is proactive and persuasive, rather than reactive, and involving all the stakeholders. In this regard, the oversight and inspection of all quarries by experienced engineers at a regular annual basis is essential. Local government, which is competent for market surveillance, should be reinforced and its capacity for compliance control reinforced.

4. The role and capacity of the National Building Control and Market Surveillance Office needs to be strengthened, ensuring that it is sufficiently staffed. Furthermore, sufficient funding of scientific research at national level is of paramount importance. In this regard, more financial and human resources should be allocated to the Geological Survey of Ireland. Finally, the idea for mapping the country regarding the presence of aggregates at national level should be implemented. The detailed geological maps established would be equivalent to the existing flood risk maps and used as a prevention tool.

5. The Enhanced Defective Concrete Blocks Grant Scheme is a very ambitious and comprehensive plan. It is imperative that the scheme be improved, in order to address the concerns expressed by homeowners, widening its scope, reducing red tape, speeding up the progress of the process and involving financial institutions. The scheme should show more flexibility and take better account of the financial burden of all the costs, such as the cost for new foundations, provisional accommodation and rental costs. Arrangements should be put in place to support homeowners who are not in a position to advance some of the costs. Moreover, adequate and accessible information and guidance should be provided to all applicants at a regular basis, both in person and by all other appropriate means, in order to ensure a timely treatment of the applications for all.

6. There is a need for a clearer picture when it comes to identifying and holding accountable the persons and entities responsible for this situation. Irish authorities should continue their efforts towards ensuring a thorough and transparent public enquiry and effective and timely legal proceedings, when appropriate.

MEP McManus has submitted amendments to the draft report. He highlighted the case of Mary O’Regan as a pensioner who does not have an income to pay towards any remediation or rebuilding of her home.

“Alongside my colleague Sandra Haughey I recently met with Mary O’Regan at her home in Manorcunningham. Her home, like many others, will eventually have to be demolished, and as a pensioner she will not be in a position to contribute towards the costs of rebuilding her home,” he said.

“This highlights the cruelty of the Government’s decision to deny 100 per cent redress to homeowners affected by defective blocks and the flaws that exist in the Defective Concrete Block Grant Scheme. Nobody should be left fearing homelessness, not least a pensioner who has worked hard all their life,” he added.

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