Minister Murphy has “no plans” for new Safety Advisory Board

27 July 2017

The Grenfell Tower fire has brought UK Fire Regulations into sharp focus.  A BBC report today says that large scale tests on cladding materials have failed even in laboratory conditions (see here).  The implications are staggering for both Government who wrote the regulations and designers who followed them.  Root and branch changes are likely to follow the Grenfell inquiry.

Meanwhile in Ireland Minister Eoghan Murphy disappointed industry commentators when he confirmed his intention not to re-establish the Building Regulations Advisory Board (BRAB).  This comes soon after it was revealed that his Department has refused publication of a long-awaited report into Millfield Manor Fire of March 2015 and a separate report with wide-ranging recommendations for improving fire safety in existing defective developments.

The Building Regulations Advisory Board was set up under Section 14 of the Building Control Act, 1990 to advise the Minister on matters relating to building regulations.  More than 20 separate groups had a board presence including consumer bodies (list provided at end of post) and for twenty years it was an invaluable source of expertise to successive Ministers.  The Board was not re-convened at the end of its 5 year term in 2012 under controversial circumstances (see post here).  BRAB Board Member Denise Germaine said:

“…we examined in detail the Northern Ireland system as part of our research. This type of Local Authority operated Building Control system was the first choice of BRAB but we were advised by the DECLG officials that there was no point in recommending this to the Minister as it ‘was not going to happen’ in Ireland.

Since the previous Minister [Phil Hogan] brought BRAB to an end in 2012, there has been no such semi-autonomous advisory body, with members drawn from all sectors of the construction industry, to advise the Minister and the Department on matters pertaining to Building Regulations and Building Control.

This is to be deplored.”

Since May 2012 most of these organisations have no longer had any input into building control.  The Department of Housing engage with just four key industry stakeholders- the Construction Industry Federation (CIF), Society of Chartered Surveyors in Ireland (SCSI), Association of Consulting Engineers of Ireland (ACEI) and the Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland (RIAI).  Former Minister Phil Hogan’s BC(A)R SI.9 ‘reinforced self-certification’ amendments were subsequently introduced in 2014 and continue to receive widespread criticism by consumer groups and industry legal experts as adding little in the way of enhanced consumer protection.

Dáil exchange to follow (see link: Building Regulations: 12 Jul 2017):

________________

Maureen O’Sullivan (Dublin Central, Independent)

466. To ask the Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government his plans to set up a building regulations advisory authority to allow broader input from industry experts (details supplied) that wish to have input into the area of planning control; his views on whether this would be beneficial in improving an imperfect system. [33252/17]

Eoghan Murphy (Dublin Bay South, Fine Gael)

I understand the body referred to in the Deputy’s question is the Building Regulations Advisory Body (BRAB). Section 14 of the Building Control Act 1990 provides for the establishment, at the Minister’s discretion, of a BRAB to advise the Minister on matters relating to building regulations.

The term of office of the last BRAB expired on 1 October 2012.  The members of that BRAB were appointed for a term of office of five years from 14 June 2007 to 13 June 2012.  A temporary extension to 1 October 2012 was granted to the existing members in light of the Building Control (Amendment) Regulations which were at an advanced stage of development at that time.

In accordance with Appendix IIb of the Government’s Public Service Reform Plan, published by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform in November 2011, the BRAB was listed as one of the forty six “Candidate Bodies for Critical Review by end June 2012”.  The outcome of that review process was that the work of the BRAB was to be absorbed into my Department.

I have no plans to establish a new BRAB at this time.

(NOTE: An identical answer was give by Minister of State Damien English to a similar question by Barry Cowen TD in May 2017 – see Building Regulations: 12 Jul 2017 9 May 2017)

________________

2012 Members of the BRAB as follows (see link here):

Mr. Jay Stuart, Chairperson, Integrated Sustainable Design Const.
Mr. Michael Brown, National Standards Authority of Ireland.
Mr. Brian McKeon, Construction Industry Federation.
Dr. Eugene Farrell, Home Bond.
Mr. Mark McAuley, Building Materials Federation.
Ms. Denise Germaine, Chartered Inst. of Architectural Technologists.
Mr. Gerard Grogan, Tánaiste’s nomimee
Mr. Jim Keogh, Electro-Technical Council of Ireland.
Mr. Jack Callanan  National Disability Authority.
Ms. Emer O’Siochru, An Taisce.
Ms. Maria Melia, Chief Fire Officers Associations.
Ms. Ann Mills, City & County Engineers Association.
Mr. Johnny McGettigan, Irish Building Control Institute.
Ms. Minka Louise McInerney, Royal Inst. of the Architects of Ireland.
Mr. Jimmy Keogan, City & County Managers Association.
Ms. Krystyna Rawicz, Society of Chartered Surveyors.
Mr. Gary Treanor, Irish Timber Frame Manufacturers’ Association Ltd.
Mr Sean Balfe, National Standards Authority of Ireland.
Ms. Sarah Neary, Senior Building Adviser, Building Standards, DEHLG.
Mr. Noel Carroll, Senior Housing Adviser, DEHLG.
Ms. Jacqui Donnelly, Architect, Heritage Policy & Architectural Protection, DEHLG.
Ms. Terry Prendergast, National Consumer Agency
Mr Cian O’Lionáin, Principal Officer, Private Housing Sector & Building Standards, DEHLG
Ms Edel Collins, Office of Public Works
Mr Kevin O’Rourke, Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland

Other posts of interest:

SI.9 | Irish solutions to Irish problems only!

Officials refuse publication of Fire Safety Strategy for Defective Housing

Everything you wanted to know about “Approved Inspectors”

BRAB and BC(A)R SI.9- Look Back 3

Government Reports + Professional Opinion Ignored in SI.9 | look back 5

Collins & O’Cofaigh | “the 38 steps” and the complexity of our regulations 

Inadequate Regulatory Impact Assessment for S.I.9- Look Back 2

Dept. of Housing withhold Fire Review into timber frame housing | Irish Examiner 

Kildare Fire: Safety concerns arise from Celtic Tiger ashes | Irish Examiner

‘Does our Housing Minister know how many homes are at risk of rapid fire spread?’ Cian O’Callaghan

“More dog wardens than Building Inspectors” | Look Back 18 

Possibility of Grenfell Tower-type fire exists in Ireland | CJ Walsh

The Price Of Allowing Developers To Self-Certify | Broadsheet.ie

2 thoughts on “Minister Murphy has “no plans” for new Safety Advisory Board

  1. Denise Germaine MRIAI MCIAT

    I was first appointed to BRAB in 1995 and served continuously until its cessation in 2012. So Brab gave invaluable advice and input into the work of the Department for more than 17 years. It is shameful that the panel of Industry advisers to the Department has been reduced to such a restricted few.

    Reply
  2. Michael O'Neill

    I would like to congratulate Ms Germain and through her the BRAB for what they have done and what they have tried to do down the years to improve the standards in the Irish Building industry for the Public Good.

    But this government does not act for the Public Good, except where mere coincidence takes place.
    This government acts for the benefit of the private needs of the few
    The wealthy few

    Good contractors, and there are a few, need not worry about the BRAB because their quality control officers will ensure they build to the right standards anyway

    Its the crooks who stand to gain from this, not the competent builders

    It is now quite clear that this government is pandering to the requirements of the main dodgy players in the building industry in Ireland.

    These are the people who intend to profit from selling substandard building works while risking the lives of the occupiers in their death-traps.

    As an aside, this is the second picture I have seen of this Minister doing a passable impersonation of a goldfish.

    The recent article on the supposed panacea to be supplied by Rapid Built Factory Home is the other

    Is this is default expression?

    Reply

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