SI.9 | Where’s the accountability?

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5th December 2014

Vivian Cummins MRIAI is a Co. Kildare based architect in private practice.

Assigned Certifiers have been made fully accountable for implementing SI.9 but who is accountable for having  produced this legislation with its many faults?

It is becoming clearer that Ministers Alan Kelly T.D. and Paudie Coffey T.D. at the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government (DECLG) are fully aware that there are serious problems with the Building Control legislation, SI.9. This is the legislation that they inherited at the Department and there is no question of them being accountable for its shortcomings; their responsibility now is to try and sort it out. However a question arises as to who can they turn to for advice? It is not so clear that the people that brought us the Building Control Regulations’ mess are the ones to get us out of it.

David Hall of the Irish Mortgage Holders Association recently described the DECLG as the “poster boy of bureaucratic” failure. This was during an Irish Times podcast with journalists Tom Lyons and Fiach Kelly, when he was discussing the DECLG’s blockage of a ready to go €100 million ‘mortgage for rent’ scheme that had 100 ready-to-go mortgagees. Hall said that he agreed with the financial institutions who claimed that the DECLG had made the scheme unworkable.

The DECLG is the same Government Department that has responsibility for other major difficulties being encountered at the moment on such issues as Irish Water, Social Housing and Planning. In the latter case it believed it was unaccountable when it conducted its own internal review in June 2012 of planning complaints* about seven Planning Authorities and declared that it could find no evidence of wrongdoing. However a subsequent High Court challenge to these findings found otherwise, quashing the DECLG’s review and the Department was obliged to appoint an independent inspector whose report was due last September but has still not been published.

In terms of accountability it is interesting to compare how similar past difficulties in Government Departments have been dealt with. In the Department of Finance it was only after the Celtic Tiger had bolted that issues seemed to be addressed there. The Banking Inquiry to start on Wednesday week may shine more light on this. Elsewhere, in the Department of Justice, the Secretary General, resigned following the publication of a report on its “closed, secretive, silo-driven culture”. How will matters be resolved at the DECLG?

There seems to be a lot of problems for one Department to sort out and one wonders if it has the necessary resources to deal with the SI.9 problems successfully on top of all the others.

*The author of this post was one of the two people whose complaints prompted the inclusion of the Planning Department of Carlow County Council in the June 2012 Review.

Posts of Interest:

Irish Times Business Podcast: 

Imminent changes to SI.9 announced | Minister Alan Kelly T.D. 

Are small rural practices under threat from SI.9? | Vivian Cummins MRIAI

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