15 September 2017 – BRegs Weekly Edition 121
Edition 121 of BRegs Weekly is out now.
In “State must answer fire safety questions” by Mick Clifford, the case for a widespread audit of Celtic Tiger-era buildings has never been as strong. The Department of Education recently released details of a fire safety audits in five schools completed two years ago and withheld till now. It was only with the intervention of the Information Commisisoner, following an FOI request from the Dublin Inquirer newspaper, that the department finally caved in. The reports were published eight days ago and showed a whole range of fire safety deficiencies- all were in breach of fire safety standards. Remarkably the Department was reluctant to let parents know whether their children were at any risk should a fire occur in any of the five schools. Now, rather than facing up to the past, the State and its agencies are hoping against hope that any fire problems in defective Celtic Tiger-era dwellings can remain buried, a ‘potentially catastrophic’ gamble.
The issue of defective public sector buildings is note restricted to Ireland. In “NHS hospitals exposed to fire risk” in The Construction Index, it appears that several NHS hospitals, including the flagship £545m Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham, are at serious risk of fire due to inadequate or non-existent passive fire protection. Despite Building Regulations requiring minimum levels of fire protection within buildings, the application and installation of passive fire protection is poorly understood and that there is no effective system to ensure that it is installed and maintained correctly. A UK industry source said that several cases of inadequate fire protection have surfaced recently at a number of new NHS hospitals but these are just “the tip of the iceberg”. Problems with shoddy fire protection have surfaced at these hospitals largely due to the nature of so-called Public Private Partnerships (PPP/PFI) contracts. This is of particular concern in Ireland where the widespread extension of the PPP programme for state housing is being considered at present.
The Housing crisis rolls on. In “Murphy’s social housing plan ‘falls far short” by Eithne Loughlin in the Examiner, social housing plans were criticised as falling “ far short” of what is required to address the escalating crisis. However, Mr Murphy said the 800 extra homes to be built in 2018, on top of the 3,000 already promised, represents a “significant increase”. Focus Ireland said the meeting had produced some positive proposals, but had failed to live up to the expectations created by the decision to bill it as a summit. Focus Ireland director of advocacy, Mike Allen, said the proposals announced were “dominated by managing the emergency rather than tackling the problem”. Pat Doyle, CEO of Peter McVerry Trust, welcomed the provision of extra emergency beds before Christmas but added: “Clearly the latest homeless figures point to the fact that more needs to be done and done quickly…” Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin branded the Government’s housing response a “national scandal…We need to build significantly more houses and apartments, and quickly.”
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Click Here to read: BRegs Weekly Edition 121